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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.
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    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(2), 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Inwood, Kris & Minns, Chris & Summerfield, Fraser, 2019. "Occupational income scores and immigrant assimilation. Evidence from the Canadian census," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 114-122.
    2. Victor Ginsburgh & Shlomo Weber, 2018. "The Economics of Language," Working Papers ECARES 2018-18, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. 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.
    4. Ainhoa Aparicio Fenoll & Zoë Kuehn, 2017. "Compulsory Schooling Laws and Migration Across European Countries," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(6), pages 2181-2200, December.
    5. Del Rey, Elena & Jimenez-Martin, Sergi & Vall Castello, Judit, 2018. "Improving educational and labor outcomes through child labor regulation," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 51-66.
    6. Vasiliki Fouka & Soumyajit Mazumder & Marco Tabellini, 2019. "From Immigrants to Americans: Race and Assimilation during the Great Migration," Development Working Papers 445, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
    7. De Paola, Maria & Brunello, Giorgio, 2016. "Education as a Tool for the Economic Integration of Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 9836, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan, 2017. "Immigration in American Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1311-1345, December.
    9. Samuel Bazzi & Arya Gaduh & Alexander D. Rothenberg & Maisy Wong, 2019. "Unity in Diversity? How Intergroup Contact Can Foster Nation Building," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(11), pages 3978-4025, November.
    10. 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.
    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. Carneiro, Pedro & Lee, Sokbae & Reis, Hugo, 2020. "Please call me John: Name choice and the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, 1900–1930," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    13. Ward, Zachary, 2017. "Birds of passage: Return migration, self-selection and immigration quotas," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 37-52.
    14. 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.
    15. Ethan J. Schmick & Allison Shertzer, 2019. "The Impact of Early Investments in Urban School Systems in the United States," NBER Working Papers 25663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. 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 Jun 2019.
    17. James J. Feigenbaum & Hui Ren Tan, 2019. "The Return to Education in the Mid-20th Century: Evidence from Twins," NBER Working Papers 26407, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Gradstein, Mark & Justman, Moshe, 2019. "Immigration, Diversity and Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 14008, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    19. Ramachandran, Rajesh, 2017. "Language use in education and human capital formation: Evidence from the Ethiopian educational reform," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 195-213.
    20. Yuki, Kazuhiro, 2018. "Is bilingual education desirable in multilingual countries?," MPRA Paper 85034, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Agnė Šimelytė & Renata Korsakienė & Deniss Ščeulovs, 2017. "Americanization in Lithuania as a driving force for globalization," Journal of Open Innovation: Technology, Market, and Complexity, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(3), pages 1-13, September.
    22. Aparicio Fenoll, Ainoa & Kuehn, Zoë, 2016. "Education Policies and Migration across European Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 9755, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    23. 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.
    24. 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.

    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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