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In this paper, I argue that tax and transfer policies are more efficient than immigration restrictions as instruments for raising the after-tax incomes of the least skilled native workers. Policies to protect these native workers from immigrant competition in the labor market do no better at promoting distributive justice and are likely to impose a greater economic burden on natives in the country of immigration than the tax alternative. These immigration restrictions are especially costly given the disproportionate burden that they place on households with working women, which discourages female participation in the labor force. This burden runs contrary to the teachings of optimal tax theory and introduces excessive distortions in the labor market because the supply of female labor is more elastic than the supply of male labor. Thus, the best response to concerns about the effect of immigration on the distribution of income among natives is to increase the progressivity of the tax system.


Immigration Law, Labor Economics, Feminism, Women, Gender Studies, Income Taxation, Law and Equality, Race Relations, Economics, International Trade

Publication Title

Journal of Law, Economics & Policy

Publication Citation

5 J. L. Econ. & Pol. 1 (2009).