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A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration

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  • Ran Abramitzky
  • Leah Platt Boustan
  • Katherine Eriksson

Abstract

During the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913), the US maintained an open border, absorbing 30 million European immigrants. Prior cross-sectional work on this era finds that immigrants initially held lower-paid occupations than natives but experienced rapid convergence over time. In newly-assembled panel data, we show that, in fact, the average immigrant did not face a substantial occupation-based earnings penalty upon first arrival and experienced occupational advancement at the same rate as natives. Cross-sectional patterns are driven by biases from declining arrival cohort quality and departures of negatively-selected return migrants. We show that assimilation patterns vary substantially across sending countries and persist in the second generation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18011.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18011

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Cited by:
  1. Depew, Briggs & Norlander, Peter & Sorensen, Todd A., 2013. "Flight of the H-1B: Inter-Firm Mobility and Return Migration Patterns for Skilled Guest Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 7456, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Biavaschi, Costanza, 2013. "Fifty Years of Compositional Changes in U.S. Out-Migration, 1908-1957," IZA Discussion Papers 7258, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Biavaschi, Costanza, 2013. "The labor demand was downward sloping: Disentangling migrants’ inflows and outflows, 1929–1957," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(3), pages 531-534.
  4. Carolyn Moehling & Anne Piehl, 2014. "Immigrant assimilation into US prisons, 1900–1930," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 173-200, January.
  5. Christian Dustmann & Joseph-Simon Görlach, 2014. "Selective Outmigration and the Estimation of Immigrants' Earnings Profiles," CESifo Working Paper Series 4617, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Biavaschi, Costanza & Giulietti, Corrado & Siddique, Zahra, 2013. "The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization," IZA Discussion Papers 7725, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Ferrie, Joseph & Hatton, Timothy J., 2013. "Two Centuries of International Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 7866, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Bandiera, Oriana & Rasul, Imran & Viarengo, Martina, 2013. "The Making of Modern America: Migratory Flows in the Age of Mass Migration," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 23-47.
  9. Christian Dustmann & Joseph-Simon Görlach, 2014. "Selective Outmigration and the Estimation of Immigrants’ Earnings Profiles," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2014002, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.

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