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12:00pm - Speaker Series: Matthew Patrick Shaw - Public Policy and Education, Vanderbilt University-Peabody College

  • When: January 29, 2020, 12–1:30 pm
  • Where: ABF Woods Conference Room, 750 N. Lake Shore Drive, 4th floor, Lakeside, Chicago, IL 60611

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Beyond Mexican Origin: Refining Estimates of Tuition- and Aid-Policy Effects on Undocumented Migrants

A growing body of econometric literature examines the effects of a variety of tuition and aid policies on undocumented migrants residing in the United States. Although government surveys do not currently ask residency status directly, the resultant data are known to capture responses from undocumented migrants. Researchers interested in undocumented populations are, thus, confronted with a dilemma: engage admittedly noisy data to offer imprecise, but best-available results or develop data sources that might more accurately and consistently capture information from this population. Given the low likelihood that governmental data would ever be able to isolate with perfect precision, residency-status information from a population which would be vulnerable to a buffet of adverse actions should this information be known, scholars have acceded to the former option.

 In a preliminary attempt at mitigating this limitation, scholars have invariably identified foreign-born non-citizens of Mexican or Latino ancestry as a treatment proxy for likely undocumented migrants. As a first pass, this makes sense as an ameliorative strategy: a majority of undocumented migrants come to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America as a predictable function of geography. However, such identification improperly reduces undocumented-migrant status to Mexican and Latino origin. This creates two distinct, but related problems. One, it requires the empirical assumption that all Mexican or Latino non-citizens are undocumented. Two, it denies the well-known reality that many undocumented migrants are neither Mexican nor Latino. In tandem, these assumptions confound our ability to understand phenomena affecting undocumented migrants with phenomena affecting individuals because of their racial, ethnic, or national origin.

 In this work-in progress, I address these assumptions by introducing weighting across the panel of governmental data as an alternative strategy. In extension and elaboration of a crude weighting strategy I used in a previous paper, here I propose calculating as a stabilized weight, the ratio of the marginal probability of a survey participant being undocumented given their national-origin ancestry to the inverse probability of the same participant being a member of the intended tuition or aid-policy treatment group conditional on observed covariates.

Photo courtesy of Matthew P. Shaw; Bio courtesy of Vanderbilt University

 Dr. Shaw is a sociologist of law whose research focuses on educational institutions and the students, educators, and communities who engage with them.  As a scholar in the law and society tradition, Dr. Shaw’s work brings together critical legal studies and econometrics to enhance his sociological methods. His current projects are on laws which shape the experiences of undocumented youth as they transition from high school to college, Title IX as directive on educational institutions, and funding challenges experienced by historically Black colleges and universities. 

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