The Earnings and Social Security Contributions of Documented and Undocumented Mexican Immigrants

Audrey Singer Gary Burtless

WP#2011-2

Abstract

Using information supplied by immigrants interviewed by the Mexican Migration Project (MMP) we analyze the Social Security coverage of jobs held by legal and other-than-legal Mexican immigrants who work in the United States. Our analysis suggests that about half the Mexican-born migrants residing in the United States who are wage earners and heads of household earn their incomes in jobs that are not covered by Social Security. Since workers in uncovered jobs tend to earn below-average wages, their earnings account for less than half the wages earned by Mexican immigrants. Evidence from the MMP survey shows that Social Security coverage is higher among Mexican immigrants who are authorized to live in the United States than it is among undocumented Mexican immigrants. Coverage among working legal permanent residents is less than 75 percent, but the coverage rate among undocumented workers is even lower, about 25 percent…