Table of Contents
International Journal of Population Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 873967, 7 pages
Research Article

A Theoretical Note on the Relationship between Documented and Undocumented Migration

1Division of Resource Management, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6201, Morgantown, WV 26506-6201, USA
2Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6825, Morgantown, WV 26506-6825, USA

Received 9 March 2011; Accepted 18 June 2011

Academic Editor: Rebeca Raijman

Copyright © 2011 Peter V. Schaeffer and Mulugeta S. Kahsai. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Undocumented migration is a (inferior) substitute to documented migration. Hence, policies affecting documented migration also affect undocumented migration. This paper explores this relationship from a theoretical perspective. The implications of this exploration are that lax enforcement of visa rules and national borders, combined with a very long waiting line (small annual quotas) for immigrant visas, can make illegal immigration a preferred option over legal immigration or, more generally, that for policy purposes all types of migrations should be regarded as interdependent. Therefore, policies aimed solely at, say, undocumented immigration will generally be less effective than an integrated policy approach.