This paper constructs estimates of the elasticity of labor supply for U.S. crop workers. To estimate these elasticities with high precision, this paper takes into account three factors that have not been included in previous estimates: (1) the immigration status of the worker, (2) the worker's income tax rate, and (3) the worker's welfare program participation. The final elasticity estimates are compared with estimates that do not control for these confounding factors to quantify the omitted variable bias. The results indicate that after including tax rates and accounting for welfare program participation, the elasticity estimates for both male and female farmworkers decrease substantially. Furthermore, the differential between the elasticity estimates for workers of different immigration statuses decreases after including these variables. Finally, the paper utilizes these elasticity estimates to discuss the effects of past and present immigration reform policies on the market for agricultural labor.
Ph.D. Student, Agricultural Economics, UC Davis
Alexandra Hill is a fourth year graduate student in the Agricultural and Resource Economics department at the University of California, Davis. Her ongoing dissertation work focuses on U.S. agricultural workers and lies at the intersection of labor, public, and agricultural economics.