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Chapter 17 Illegal Immigration, Factor Substitution, and Economic Growth

Economic Growth and Development

ISBN: 978-1-78052-396-5, eISBN: 978-1-78052-397-2

Publication date: 1 November 2011


This chapter develops a neoclassical growth model of illegal immigration with imperfect substitutability between native and immigrant workers in production. We investigate analytically and/or numerically the effects of illegal immigration on the average capital stock in the host economy as well as on the wage, income, and asset holdings of native workers. Our findings indicate that the effects of an increase in illegal immigration on the average levels of capital, consumption, and income are positive. Moreover, by employing the normalization technique (e.g., Klump & de La Grandville, 2000), we examine the effects of a change in the elasticity of substitution between immigrant workers and natives for any given immigration ratio. These effects are in general ambiguous, because of the presence of two opposing forces: the efficiency and the distribution effects. Finally, we extend the model by separating the domestic workers into skilled and unskilled and study the impact on distribution of income and wealth. We show that illegal immigration may not necessarily make the distribution of wealth more unequal and unskilled labor worse off. This is because the end results depend on the elasticities of substitution between different types of labor. Thus, assuming erroneously that immigrants and natives are perfect substitutes could lead to results that are not only overestimated but also of the wrong sign.



Palivos, T., Xue, J. and Yip, C.K. (2011), "Chapter 17 Illegal Immigration, Factor Substitution, and Economic Growth", de La Grandville, O. (Ed.) Economic Growth and Development (Frontiers of Economics and Globalization, Vol. 11), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 455-481.



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