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Did the Americanization Movement Succeed? An Evaluation of the Effect of English-Only and Compulsory Schooling Laws on Immigrants

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  • Adriana Lleras-Muney
  • Allison Shertzer

Abstract

We provide the first estimates of the effect of statutes requiring English as the language of instruction and compulsory schooling laws on the school enrollment, work, literacy, and English fluency of immigrant children during the Americanization period (1910-1930). English-only statutes moderately increased the literacy of certain foreign-born children, particularly those living in cities or whose parents were not fluent in English. However, these laws had no impact on immigrants' eventual labor market outcomes or measures of social integration (from 1940 census and WWII enlistment records). Only laws regulating the age when children could work significantly affected immigrant outcomes. (JEL I21, I26, I28, J13, J15, N31, N32)

Suggested Citation

  • Adriana Lleras-Muney & Allison Shertzer, 2015. "Did the Americanization Movement Succeed? An Evaluation of the Effect of English-Only and Compulsory Schooling Laws on Immigrants," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 258-290, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:7:y:2015:i:3:p:258-90
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.20120219
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Melvin Stephens Jr. & Dou-Yan Yang, 2014. "Compulsory Education and the Benefits of Schooling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1777-1792, June.
    2. Angrist, Joshua & Chin, Aimee & Godoy, Ricardo, 2008. "Is Spanish-only schooling responsible for the Puerto Rican language gap?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 105-128, February.
    3. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    4. Dobkin, Carlos & Ferreira, Fernando, 2010. "Do school entry laws affect educational attainment and labor market outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 40-54, February.
    5. Chin, Aimee & Daysal, N. Meltem & Imberman, Scott A., 2013. "Impact of bilingual education programs on limited English proficient students and their peers: Regression discontinuity evidence from Texas," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 63-78.
    6. Goldin, Claudia, 1998. "America's Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 345-374, June.
    7. Lleras-Muney, Adriana, 2002. "Were Compulsory Attendance and Child Labor Laws Effective? An Analysis from 1915 to 1939," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 401-435, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Cappellari, Lorenzo & Di Paolo, Antonio, 2018. "Bilingual schooling and earnings: Evidence from a language-in-education reform," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 90-101.
    2. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:66:y:2018:i:c:p:51-66 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Pedro Carneiro & Sokbae (Simon) Lee & Hugo Reis, 2015. "Please call me John: name choice and the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, 1900-1930," CeMMAP working papers CWP28/15, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    4. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:37-52 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:wdevel:v:98:y:2017:i:c:p:195-213 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1311-45 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Samuel Bazzi & Arya Gaduh & Alexander Rothenberg & Maisy Wong, "undated". "Unity in Diversity? How Intergroup Contact Can Foster Nation Building," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-006, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    8. Aparicio Fenoll, Ainoa & Kuehn, Zoë, 2016. "Education Policies and Migration across European Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 9755, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2018. "The Economics of Language," Working Papers ECARES 2018-18, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. De Paola, Maria & Brunello, Giorgio, 2016. "Education as a Tool for the Economic Integration of Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 9836, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Javier Cano-Urbina & Patrick L. Mason, 2016. "Acculturation and the labor market in Mexico," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-29, December.
    12. Zachary Ward, 2016. "The Role of English Fluency in Migrant Assimilation: Evidence from United States History," CEH Discussion Papers 049, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    13. Vasiliki Fouka & Soumyajit Mazumder & Marco Tabellini, 2018. "From Immigrants to Americans: Race and Assimilation during the Great Migration," Harvard Business School Working Papers 19-018, Harvard Business School, revised Jan 2019.
    14. Bazzi, Samuel & Gaduh, Arya & Rothenberg, Alexander & Wong, Maisy, 2017. "Unity in Diversity? Ethnicity, Migration, and Nation Building in Indonesia," CEPR Discussion Papers 12377, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    15. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan, 2017. "Immigration in American Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1311-1345, December.
    16. Yuki, Kazuhiro, 2018. "Is bilingual education desirable in multilingual countries?," MPRA Paper 85034, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. repec:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0615-x is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Titus J. Galama & Adriana Lleras-Muney & Hans van Kippersluis, 2018. "The Effect of Education on Health and Mortality: A Review of Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 24225, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Timothy J Hatton & Zachary Ward, 2018. "International Migration in the Atlantic Economy 1850 - 1940," CEH Discussion Papers 02, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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