Harvard economist, George Borjas, presents a graph summarizing his controversial finding that the Mariel boatlift of 10,000 Cuban refugees in 1980 significantly depressed the wages of non-Hispanic Miami high school dropouts. Borjas’s findings rebut the seminal work of David Card, which claimed the boatlift had little effect on wages.
“The critics harp on the fact that my sample of prime-age, non-Hispanic working men is small (which it is, as I explicitly noted in my original paper). But they ignore that I report many statistical tests showing the post-1980 wage drop in Miami to be statistically significant, despite the small samples.
Even worse, the only way to make sure your lying eyes see the ‘right’ wage trend is to enlarge the sample in ways that are, at best, questionable and, most likely, just plain wrong. They want to add women, which seems fine except for the fact that many women entered the labor market in the 1980s, so that the sample composition is changing in ways that need to be accounted for. They add Hispanics, which also seems fine until you realize that a big chunk of those Hispanics were immigrants who entered the country after 1980, again changing the sample composition. And, finally, they add “workers” aged 16-18, which means that all high school students with part-time or summer jobs are classified as high school dropouts because they lack a high school diploma. This is so obviously wrong that the less said the better.”