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Immigrant Group Size and Political Mobilization: Evidence from European Migration to the United States

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  • Allison Shertzer
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    Abstract

    Immigration to democratic nations generates new groups of potential voters. This paper investigates how the electorate share of immigrant groups influences their decision to become politically mobilized. I consider two mechanisms through which electorate share could impact an immigrant’s likelihood of voting: the contestability of local elections and the existence of ethnic social networks that facilitate political organization. Using newly assembled data on ethnic enclaves in American cities in the early twentieth century, I show immigrants were more likely to mobilize politically as their share of the local electorate grew larger, but only in places where the Democratic Party likely needed to their vote to win elections and where immigrants had established enclaves. I also consider the shape of the electorate share effect, showing it is nonlinear and in particular tapers off for groups larger than one fifth of the local electorate.

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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18827.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18827

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    1. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
    2. Barry Nalebuff & Ron Shachar, 1999. "Follow the Leader: Theory and Evidence on Political Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 525-547, June.
    3. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 1999. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," Working Papers 9902, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
    4. Adriana Lleras-Muney & Allison Shertzer, 2012. "Did the Americanization Movement Succeed? An Evaluation of the Effect of English-Only and Compulsory Schools Laws on Immigrants' Education," NBER Working Papers 18302, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1997. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," NBER Working Papers 6009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Ebonya L. Washington, 2012. "Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds Following the Voting Rights Act of 1965," NBER Working Papers 17776, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Network Effects And Welfare Cultures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 1019-1055, August.
    8. Oberholzer-Gee, Felix & Waldfogel, Joel, 2005. "Strength in Numbers: Group Size and Political Mobilization," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 48(1), pages 73-91, April.
    9. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
    10. Card, David, 2004. "Is the New Immigration Really So Bad?," IZA Discussion Papers 1119, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. James M. Snyder Jr. & Michael M. Ting & Stephen Ansolabehere, 2005. "Legislative Bargaining under Weighted Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 981-1004, September.
    12. Ananat, Elizabeth Oltmans & Washington, Ebonya, 2009. "Segregation and Black political efficacy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(5-6), pages 807-822, June.
    13. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 18011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Kaivan Munshi, 2003. "Networks In The Modern Economy: Mexican Migrants In The U.S. Labor Market," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(2), pages 549-599, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Sweetman, Arthur & van Ours, Jan C., 2014. "Immigration: What about the Children and Grandchildren?," IZA Discussion Papers 7919, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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