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Individuals and Institutions: Evidence from International Migrants in the U.S

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  • Anna Paulson

    ()
    (Research Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago)

  • Una Okonkwo Osili

Abstract

A growing body of theoretical and empirical work identifies the ability of a country's institutions to protect private property and provide incentives for investment as a key explanation for the persistent disparity in financial market development. We add to this literature by analyzing the impact of institutions on financial development using data on the financial decisions of immigrants and the native-born in the U.S. While all of the individuals whose decisions we analyze face the same formal institutional framework in the U.S., immigrants bring with them varied experiences with institutions in their home countries. We find that immigrants who come from countries with institutions that are more effective at protecting property rights are more likely to participate in U.S. financial markets. The effect of home country institutions is very persistent and impacts immigrants for the first 25 years that they spend in the U.S. Evidence from variation in the effect of home country institutions by age at migration, suggests that individuals appear to learn about home country institutions before the age of sixteen, probably in the home and potentially at school, rather than through direct experience. These findings are robust to alternative measures of institutional effectiveness and to various methods of controlling for unobserved individual characteristics.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2006 Meeting Papers with number 857.

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Date of creation: 03 Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:red:sed006:857

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Keywords: institutions; financial development; stock market participation; legal origin;

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  1. Raquel Fernandez & Alessandra Fogli, 2005. "Culture: an empirical investigation of beliefs, work, and fertility," Staff Report 361, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  2. Beck, Thorsten & Levine, Ross & Loayza, Norman, 1999. "Finance and the sources of growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2057, The World Bank.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & David Laibson & Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "The Economic Approach to Social Capital," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1916, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Besley, Timothy, 1995. "Property Rights and Investment Incentives: Theory and Evidence from Ghana," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 903-37, October.
  5. Borjas, George J, 1985. "Assimilation, Changes in Cohort Quality, and the Earnings of Immigrants," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 3(4), pages 463-89, October.
  6. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
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