Theses and Dissertations


Lili Yao

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Thomas, M. Kathleen

Committee Member

Campbell, Randall C.

Committee Member

Kennedy, Kendall J.

Committee Member

Parisian, Daniel J.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Applied Economics

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Business


Department of Finance and Economics


This study focuses on the labor market outcomes of immigration flows. To obtain a reliable view, I try to find evidence from the agricultural sector, whereby around half of the workers are undocumented. In recessionary periods, the labor demand might shift to the left in an unobservable manner. The reasons mainly lie that the steady demand for major fresh vegetables.1 Besides, most of the foreign-born farmworkers are seasonal. Hence, the job opportunities might maintain a similar level as at ordinary times. In other words, the agricultural sector might hold additional job vacancies while other sectors are facing a rising unemployment rate at recessionary times. During recessions, the undocumented immigrants could be crowded out by documented workers who were laid off from other sectors, or they could be unaffected because less than two percent of the US's native-born labor force would like working on farms. This study addresses: (1) what are the compositional changes of foreign-born farmworkers? (2) What are the changes in hours worked of foreign-born farmworkers? And (3) what are the changes in stays of those farmworkers if they enter the US at recessionary times? This study reveals that during recessions, the share of documented foreign-born farmworkers, the share of newcomers, and the share of undocumented newcomers decreases.3 The number of hours worked rises for both foreign-born documented and undocumented agricultural workers. Shorter duration spells are observed if foreign-born farmworkers enter the US during recessions, especially for foreign-born documented workers. These findings suggest a possible downsized labor supply in recessions and employed agricultural workers could choose to work more hours if they want to.4 Also, during recessions, foreign-born documented agricultural workers tend to shorten their stays. Overall, these findings together demonstrate that recessions deter immigration flows.



Recessions||Immigration flows||Undocumented workers