Economic impacts of changes in wait times at U.S. Ports of entry

Bryan Roberts, Adam Rose, Nathaniel Heatwole, Dan Wei, Misak Avetisyan, Fynnwin Prager, Charles Baschnagel, Isaac Maya

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Introduction Inspections of people and vehicles at U.S. border crossings are vital to homeland security. The benefits of these activities are the avoided consequences associated with the movement of contraband, unauthorized border crossers, and potential terrorists into the United States. At the same time, inspections incur various types of costs. Construction and operational costs associated with inspection facilities are a significant federal expenditure. Moreover, inspections generate various spillover effects related to the delays in the flows of passengers and cargo across U.S. borders. On the passenger side, they decrease the amount of tourism and business travel into and out of the country, and thus impact the location of related spending. Those people who do make the trip incur delays that cost them time. On the freight side, delays translate into increases in various explicit transportation costs, such as additional fuel, as well as implicit costs, such as the value of lost time. Reducing wait times at ports of entry (POEs), through the addition of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers would lessen these negative spillover effects, though it would also incur additional demands on the federal budget. This study estimates the macroeconomic impacts on the U.S. economy of changes in primary inspection wait times for inbound traffic at major U.S. border crossings. In addition to the changes in the direct spillover costs previously noted, it also examines various types of economic ripple effects of changed wait times. These include multiplier effects from tourist and business travel expenditures, as well as freight cost general equilibrium effects, which refer to complex interactions in relation to competitive changes in imports and exports of intermediate (unfinished) and final (finished) goods. We evaluate impacts on passenger and commercial vehicles, but not for pedestrians crossing the U.S. border. The analysis is based on extensive primary data provided by CBP, federal government publications, commercial vendors, and the professional literature on the topic. At the microeconomic level, the study applies economic analysis and operations research methods. At the macroeconomic level, it applies computable general equilibrium (CGE) analysis, where the data are extensive and the issues are complex, and the more practical tool of input-output (I-O) analysis, where the subject of inquiry is less demanding.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImproving Homeland Security Decisions
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages47
ISBN (Electronic)9781316676714
ISBN (Print)9781107161887
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Economic impacts of changes in wait times at U.S. Ports of entry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this