IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

How much did immigrant "quality" decline in late nineteenth century America?


  • Timothy J. Hatton

    () (Department of Economics, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester CO4 3SQ, UK)


Early twentieth century observers argued that recent American immigrants were inferior, and in particular less skilled, than the old. I estimate wage equations for 1909 allowing for different effects by nationality and for different characteristics on arrival. I then apply the estimated wage differentials to the immigrant composition to measure the effect of changing composition on immigrant earnings. Finally I ask how immigrant earning power changed relative to that of native Americans. I conclude that immigrant "quality" in terms of earnings did decline due to shifting composition but these effects are very small compared with those reported in studies of the post-second World War period.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy J. Hatton, 2000. "How much did immigrant "quality" decline in late nineteenth century America?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(3), pages 509-525.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:13:y:2000:i:3:p:509-525 Note: Received: 1 September 1997/Accepted: 6 June 1998

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peters, H Elizabeth, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 687-693, June.
    2. Becker, Gary S & Landes, Elisabeth M & Michael, Robert T, 1977. "An Economic Analysis of Marital Instability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(6), pages 1141-1187, December.
    3. Betsey Stevenson & Justin Wolfers, 2006. "Bargaining in the Shadow of the Law: Divorce Laws and Family Distress," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 267-288.
    4. 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.
    5. Weiss, Yoram & Willis, Robert J, 1993. "Transfers among Divorced Couples: Evidence and Interpretation," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(4), pages 629-679, October.
    6. Allen, Douglas W, 1992. "Marriage and Divorce: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 679-685, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. James Foreman-Peck & Peng Zhou, 2013. "The strength and persistence of entrepreneurial cultures," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(1), pages 163-187, January.
    2. Timothy Hatton & Andrew Leigh, 2011. "Immigrants assimilate as communities, not just as individuals," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(2), pages 389-419, April.
    3. Minns, Chris, 2000. "Income, Cohort Effects, and Occupational Mobility: A New Look at Immigration to the United States at the Turn of the 20th Century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 326-350, October.
    4. Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2005. "A Dual Policy Paradox: Why Have Trade and Immigration Policies Always Differed in Labor-Scarce Economies," NBER Working Papers 11866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Kris Inwood & Chris Minns & Fraser Summerfield, 2016. "Reverse assimilation? Immigrants in the Canadian labour market during the Great Depression," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(3), pages 299-321.
    6. Timothy J. Hatton, 2010. "The Cliometrics Of International Migration: A Survey," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 941-969, December.
    7. 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


    United States immigration history;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:jopoec:v:13:y:2000:i:3:p:509-525. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Rebekah McClure). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.