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What Drove the Mass Migrations from Europe in the Late Nineteenth Century?

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  • Timothy J. Hatton
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

Abstract

This paper examines the determinants of overseas mass migration from eleven European countries in the late 19th century. They typically passed through something like a half-century life-cycle: a steep rise in emigration rates from low levels in preindustrial decades, followed by a plateau of very high emigration, and then a subsequent fall during more mature stages of industrialization. Using a new real wage data base, we are able to isolate the impact of economic and demographic forces (associated with the industrial revolution) on this emigration experience. The steep rise in emigration rates was driven mainly by fertility boom and infant mortality decline, events early in the demographic transition which, with a two decade lag, tended to glut the age cohort most responsive to wage gaps between the labor-abundant Old World and the labor-scarce New World. The steep fall in emigration rates was driven mainly by the forces of convergence and catching up -- more rapid real wage growth at home encouraged an increasingly large share to stay at home. Since we show elsewhere that these mass migrations contributed significantly to an impressive late 19th century economic convergence, they can be viewed as an important part of a long run equilibrium adjustment manifested by an evolving global labor market.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0043.

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Date of creation: Nov 1992
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Publication status: published as Population and Development Review, vol. 20, no. 3 (Sept 1994): 1-27.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0043

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Cited by:
  1. Leah Platt Boustan, 2008. "Competition in the Promised Land: Black Migration and Racial Wage Convergence in the North, 1940-1970," NBER Working Papers 13813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1997. "Growth, Distribution and Demography: Some Lessons from History," NBER Working Papers 6244, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Tarbalouti, Essaid, 2008. "Investissement, protectionnisme et décision de migration internationale
    [Investment, protectionism and decision of international migration]
    ," MPRA Paper 56310, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Letouzé, Emmanuel & Purser, Mark & Rodríguez, Francisco & Cummins, Matthew, 2009. "Revisiting the Migration-Development Nexus: A Gravity Model Approach," MPRA Paper 19227, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Suzan van der Pas & Jacques Poot, 2011. "Migration Paradigm Shifts and Transformation of Migrant Communities: The Case of Dutch Kiwis," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1112, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  6. Khoudour-Casteras, David, 2004. "The Impact of Bismarck's Social Legislation on German Emigration Before World War I," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt6cs0d4xw, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  7. RobertE. B. Lucas, 2005. "Migration internationale vers les pays à haut revenu : quelles conséquences pour le développement économique des pays d'origine ?," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 19(4), pages 123-171.
  8. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 2009. "Vanishing Third World Emigrants?," CEPR Discussion Papers 7222, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Joshua L. Rosenbloom, 1996. "The Extent of the Labor Market in the United States, 1850-1914," NBER Historical Working Papers 0078, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "Europe's Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses: Self-Selection and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1832-56, August.
  11. Diego Alberto Sandoval Herrera & María Fernanda Reyes Roa, 2012. "¿Por qué los migrantes envían remesas?: Repaso de las principales motivaciones microeconómicas," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 010036, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
  12. Lingxin Hao, 2000. "Public Assistance and Private Support of Immigrants," JCPR Working Papers 171, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.

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