Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 721–756 | Cite as

Legalization and human capital accumulation

  • Fabio MéndezEmail author
  • Facundo Sepúlveda
  • Nieves Valdés
Original Paper


This paper presents new evidence regarding the effects of legalization on the training of immigrants who were granted legal status through the US Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. Our findings point to a large increase in the immigrants’ incidence of training relative to comparable groups of natives following legalization. While training gains are higher for males, wage gains are higher for females. We also show that an important part of these changes in labor market outcomes occurs through occupation changes by newly legalized immigrants.


Legalization Training Human capital accumulation Immigration 

JEL Classification

J24 J61 J15 



We wish to thank Carolina Concha for expert research assistance. We also wish to thank three anonymous referees for their helpful suggestions. Facundo Sepúlveda acknowledges financial support from FONDECYT (Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico) project No 1151116. Nieves Valdés acknowledges financial support from FONDECYT (Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Científico y Tecnológico) project No 11130058. Fabio Méndez acknowledges financial support in the form a Summer Research Grant from the Sellinger School of Business and Management at Loyola University Maryland. All errors are ours.

Supplementary material

148_2016_585_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (188 kb)
(PDF 187 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fabio Méndez
    • 1
    Email author
  • Facundo Sepúlveda
    • 2
  • Nieves Valdés
    • 3
  1. 1.Loyola University MarylandBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Universidad de Santiago de ChileSantiagoChile
  3. 3.Universidad Adolfo IbáñezSantiagoChile

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