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A new Dartmouth-Stanford study examining the economic impact of a border wall expansion between the U.S. and Mexico between 2007 to 2010 finds that the expansion minimally reduced unauthorized Mexican migration and was largely harmful to U.S. workers.
Despite construction costs of the wall of $2.3 billion or approximately $7 per person in the U.S., the study found that the border wall expansion harmed college educated U.S. workers by $4.35 per person and only benefited less educated U.S. workers by an average of 36 cents.
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The study finds that in lieu of the border wall expansion, if the U.S. had simply reduced its trade costs with Mexico so that they were closer to domestic costs, all U.S. and Mexican workers would have substantially benefited.
The research was co-authored by Dartmouth economist Treb Allen, Stanford economist Melanie Morten and Stanford doctoral candidate Cauê Dobbin, who embarked on the study in the summer of 2016 after seeing a need for more empirical evidence on the effects of the border wall amid ongoing debates over immigration. The new 101-page working paper is abridged in an executive summary and will be posted online by the National Bureau of Economic Research on Nov. 19.
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"Once we account for the complex ways the border wall expansion impacted the economy, we found that almost all workers were made worse off. Even those who did benefit did so by a very small amount. This is all the more striking given the substantial construction costs," said Treb Allen, an associate professor of economics and distinguished professor of economics and globalization at Dartmouth.
The researchers examined the U.S. - Mexico border wall expansion that resulted from the Secure Fence Act of 2006 for which 548 miles of additional fencing was constructed along nearly one-third of the 1954-mile border.
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