Mexican Immigration and Occupational Health

Project Dates

09/18/2018 -


The number of Mexican immigrants living in the United States has increased more than five-fold since 1980. Largely because of their low average English skills, Mexican immigrants tend to have a comparative advantage over U.S. natives in work that emphasizes manual tasks, which has led to Mexican immigration increasing the number of U.S. natives specializing in work that emphasized communication tasks rather than manual tasks. As jobs that focus on manual tasks are often more dangerous than other jobs, Mexican immigration has the potential to lead to improved occupational health for U.S. natives and for non-Mexican immigrants. Despite the fact that occupational injuries have an annual cost of over $250 billion and despite the fact that the occupational health effects of immigration are important in assessing the overall labor market effects of immigration, no research has examined the impact of Mexican immigration on occupational health. The primary goal of this study is to examine the impact of Mexican immigration on the occupational health of U.S. natives and of non-Mexican immigrants. In addition to potentially increasing the occupational health of natives and of non-Mexican immigrants, Mexican immigration may also depress overall reported injury rates because Mexican immigrants are less likely to report injuries conditional on being injured at work. As such, a second aim of the study is to examine the impact of Mexican immigration on overall reported injury rates.


W.E. Upjohn Institute

Subject Area

LABOR MARKET ISSUES; INTERNATIONAL ISSUES; Immigration; UNEMPLOYMENT, DISABILITY, and INCOME SUPPORT PROGRAMS; Workers compensation and disability; Occupational health and safety