Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity



Close-up photo of hands holding Mexican pesos. Adobe Stock.
January 14, 2020

The Puzzle of Financial Inclusion in Mexico: A Closeable Gap?

Financial inclusion is a fundamental pillar of development. But Mexico poses a conundrum. In many respects it has been successful at growing its economy and integrating with global markets. Yet among its peers in Latin America, Mexico is the worst-performing at financial inclusion relative to its income; at 36.9%, its rate of inclusion only surpasses three other countries regionally—all with much lower per capita incomes.

Cover of Working Paper 467
October 23, 2017

Urban Water Disinfection and Mortality Decline in Developing Countries - Working Paper 467

We analyzed a large-scale municipal water disinfection program in Mexico in 1991 that rapidly increased access to chlorinated water. Our results suggest that childhood diarrheal disease mortality in Mexico would have declined by 86 percent if all municipalities had good quality infrastructure—a decline consistent with historical experience.

Sonia R. Bhalotra , Alberto Diaz-Cayeros , Grant Miller , Alfonso Miranda and Atheendar S. Venkataramani
April 3, 2017

Immigration Restrictions as Active Labor Market Policy: Evidence from the Mexican Bracero Exclusion - Working Paper 451

We study a natural experiment that excluded almost half a million Mexican ‘bracero’ seasonal agricultural workers from the United States, with the stated goal of raising wages and employment for domestic farm workers. We reject the wage effect of bracero exclusion required by the model in the absence of induced technical change, and fail to reject the hypothesis that exclusion had no effect on US agricultural wages or employment. Important mechanisms for this result include both adoption of less labor-intensive technologies and shifts in crop mix.
Shared Border, Shared Future report cover
September 13, 2016

Shared Border, Shared Future: A Blueprint to Regulate US-Mexico Labor Mobility

Mexico and the United States have lacked a bilateral agreement to regulate cross-border labor mobility since 1965. Since that time, unlawful migration from Mexico to the US has exploded. To address this challenge, CGD assembled a group of leaders from both countries and with diverse political affiliations—from backgrounds in national security, labor unions, law, economics, business, and diplomacy—to recommend how to move forward. The result is a new blueprint for a bilateral agreement that is designed to end unlawful migration, promote the interests of US and Mexican workers, and uphold the rule of law. 

Unauthorized Mexican Workers in the United States: Recent Inflows and Possible Future Scenarios
September 12, 2016

Unauthorized Mexican Workers in the United States: Recent Inflows and Possible Future Scenarios - Working Paper 436

The U.S. economy has long relied on immigrant workers, many of them unauthorized, yet estimates of the inflow of unauthorized workers and the determinants of that inflow are hard to come by. This paper provides estimates of the number of newly arriving unauthorized workers from Mexico, the principal source of unauthorized immigrants to the United States, and examines how the inflow is related to U.S. and Mexico economic conditions. Our estimates suggest that annual inflows of unauthorized workers averaged about 170,000 during 1996-2014 but were much higher before the economic downturn that began in 2007. Labor market conditions in the U.S. and Mexico play key roles in this migrant flow. The models estimated here predict that annual unauthorized inflows from Mexico will be about 100,000 in the future if recent economic conditions persist, and higher if the U.S. economy booms or the Mexican economy weakens.

May 15, 2013

The Effect of Foreign Labor on Native Employment: A Job-Specific Approach and Application to North Carolina Farms - Working Paper 326

Using data collected by the North Carolina Growers’ Association (NCGA), the leading employer of workers with H-2 visas, Michael Clemens shows that foreign workers have almost no direct effect on the employment prospects of US workers in H-2 occupations. Instead, they actually a large and positive indirect effect on US employment by contributing to North Carolina’s economy.

April 11, 2013

Temporary Work Visas: A Four-Way Win for the Middle Class, Low-Skill Workers, Border Security, and Migrants

The US economy needs low-skill workers now more than ever, and that requires a legal channel for the large-scale, employment-based entry of low-skill workers. The alternative is what the country has now: a giant black market in unauthorized labor that hinders job creation and harms border security. A legal time-bound labor-access program could benefit the American middle class and low-skill workers, improve US border security, and create opportunities for foreign workers.