Working Paper

Immigrant fertility in the midst of intensified enforcement

Published 5 March 2018 / By Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Esther Arenas-Arroyo

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This paper exploits the temporal and geographic variation in the adoption of tougher immigration enforcement to identify its impact on undocumented immigrants’ fertility. Using data from the 2004 through 2013 American Community Survey, we find that a one standard deviation increase in the intensity of immigration enforcement lowers the childbearing likelihood of likely undocumented women by 5 per cent. The effect, which results from police-based measures, might stem from increased uncertainty about the future of the family unit and its resources, including household income. Given immigrants’ critical contribution to the sustainability of the welfare state and President Trump’s tougher stand on immigration matters, further exploration of this impact is warranted and recommended.


Fertility, Immigration Enforcement, Undocumented Immigration, United States


Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics, San Diego State University; Email:

Esther Arenas-Arroyo, Researcher, REMINDER, COMPAS; Email:


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