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The Entry Into the U.S. Labor Market of Antebellum European Immigrants, 1840-60

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  • Joseph P. Ferrie
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    Abstract

    This study examines the occupational mobility of antebellum immigrants as they entered the U.S. White collar, skilled, and semi-skilled immigrants left unskilled jobs more rapidly after arrival than farmers and unskilled workers. British and German immigrants fared better than the Irish; literate immigrants in rapidly growing counties and places with many immigrants fared best. These findings have implications for (1) the accuracy of estimates of immigrant occupational mobility; (2) the size of the human capital transfer resulting from antebellum immigration; and (3) the causes of the difficulty experienced by some immigrant groups in transferring their skills to the U.S.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/h0088.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0088.

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    Date of creation: Jun 1996
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0088

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    1. Carter, Susan B. & Savoca, Elizabeth, 1990. "Labor Mobility and Lengthy Jobs in Nineteenth-Century America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(01), pages 1-16, March.
    2. Robert A. Margo, 1992. "Wages and Prices during the Antebellum Period: A Survey and New Evidence," NBER Chapters, in: American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War, pages 173-216 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hanes, Christopher, 1996. "Immigrants' Relative Rate of Wage Growth in the Late 19th Century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 35-64, January.
    4. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
    5. George J. Borjas, 1986. "The Self-Employment Experience of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 1942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Chiswick, Barry R., 1991. "Jewish immigrant skill and occupational attainment at the turn of the century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 64-86, January.
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