Heepyung Cho


Ph.D. Candidate in Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Curriculum vitae

Job Market Paper

Driver's License Reforms and Job Accessibility among Undocumented Immigrants

Ever since Kain (1968)'s seminal study was published, researchers have hypothesized that minority workers may face job-matching constraints caused by residential segregation; however, causal evidence in support of the spatial mismatch hypothesis has been scant. In this paper, I analyze how allowing undocumented immigrants to legally obtain driver's licenses shifts commuting patterns, increases job accessibility, and ultimately, improves labor market outcomes. Using state- and nativity-level variation in reforms, I first show that granting driving privileges to undocumented immigrants increases vehicle ownership and the probability of car commute by 2.5 percentage points. This improvement in accessibility leads to a 0.8 percentage point increase in the employment rate for undocumented immigrants. The effects of license reforms on the undocumented are larger in low-accessibility localities, which are more rural and entail longer commuting times, particularly for undocumented workers. Undocumented immigrants exhibit stronger positive employments effects in more car-dependent occupations, shifting away from less car-dependent occupations. There is also suggestive evidence of labor substitution between undocumented and documented immigrants resulting from license reforms.


I am a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I received my M.A. in Economics and B.A. in Economics/Political Science from Korea University. 

My research interests include labor economics, urban economics and applied econometrics. Specifically, my current research focuses on the topics of immigration, minimum wages and survey refusals. 

I am currently on the job market and will be available for interviews at 2020 ASSA meetings in San Diego. 


+1 217-333-0120

1407 West Gregory  Dr 
Urbana, IL 61801