Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Comment on Kaestner, “Revisiting the Bracero Guest Worker Reforms”

by , , and

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We respond to the three speculations of Robert Kaestner (2020) regarding our research in Clemens et al. (2018). First, Kaestner speculates about the robustness of the results to changes of specification. Those robustness checks are already in the original paper. Kaestner does not mention those checks and does not use the paper’s open code and data to do any reanalysis. Second, he expresses doubts about the plausibility of the mechanism we posited, while ignoring new evidence corroborating precisely that mechanism. Third, he posits that a hypothetical, vast new wave of illegal migration in 1965 could explain the null results of Clemens et al. No such event occurred, Kaestner offers no evidence that it occurred, and Kaestner ignores a range of evidence that it did not occur. We conclude with an observation about the role of policy evaluation in economics.

This article is a response to Revisiting the Bracero Guest Worker Reforms: A Comment on Clemens, Lewis, and Postel by Robert Kaestner (EJW, March 2020).