Immigration and the US farm labour supply

J. Edward Taylor, Stephen R. Boucher, Aaron Smith, Peri L. Fletcher, Antonio Yúnez-Naude


This paper uses unique data from rural Mexico to examine the supply of immigrant hired labour to US farms. Econometric evidence indicates that immigration policy reforms had unintended consequences for farm labour supply. The long-term trend in migration from rural Mexico to US farms is decreasing, and in recent years, US farms have drawn more labour from remote and less developed areas of rural Mexico. Other high income countries, as well as some developing nations, mirror the US in reliance on foreign agricultural workers. Our analysis questions the sustainability of an agricultural system that depends on foreign sources of labour, and highlights the importance of labour productivity-enhancing technological change.


Farm labour; Mexico-US migration; immigration reform

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