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The Political Economy of Immigration Restriction in the United States, 1890 to 1921

In: The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy

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  • Claudia Goldin

Abstract

Anti-immigrant forces almost succeeded in passing restrictive legislation in 1897, but their plan did not ultimately materialize for another twenty years. During that time 17 million Europeans from among the poorest nations came to the United States. This paper explores the economic and political forces that propped the door open for those twenty years, as well as the factors that eventually shut it Economic downturns and their consequent unemployment almost always brought demands for restriction. The flood of immigrants eventually did result in large negative effects on the wages of native-born workers. But the political clout of immigrants was strengthened by the reinforcing nature of their flows. Cities having large numbers of the foreign born received a disproportionate share of immigrants during the 1900 to 1910 period. After 1910, however, immigrant flows were diluting. This factor and the negative impact of immigrants on native wages were important in the passage of restrictionist legislation, although the rural heartland of America was pro-restriction from the l890s.
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Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Goldin, 1994. "The Political Economy of Immigration Restriction in the United States, 1890 to 1921," NBER Chapters,in: The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy, pages 223-258 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:6577
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    Cited by:

    1. Biavaschi, Costanza, 2013. "The labor demand was downward sloping: Disentangling migrants’ inflows and outflows, 1929–1957," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(3), pages 531-534.
    2. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2008. "The Impact of Immigration: Comparing Two Global Eras," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 345-361, March.
    3. Evren Ceritoglu & H. Burcu Gurcihan Yunculer & Huzeyfe Torun & Semih Tumen, 2017. "The impact of Syrian refugees on natives’ labor market outcomes in Turkey: evidence from a quasi-experimental design," IZA Journal of Labor Policy, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), pages 1-28.
    4. Giordani, Paolo E. & Ruta, Michele, 2013. "Coordination failures in immigration policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 55-67.
    5. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2006. "Inequality and Schooling Responses to Globalization Forces: Lessons from History," NBER Working Papers 12553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Anna Maria Mayda, 2006. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 510-530.
    7. Massey, Catherine G., 2016. "Immigration quotas and immigrant selection," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 21-40.
    8. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "Mondialisation et inégalité : une longue histoire," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 10(1), pages 7-41.
    9. Jim Dolmas & Gregory W. Huffman, 2004. "On The Political Economy Of Immigration And Income Redistribution," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1129-1168, November.
    10. Giordani, Paolo E. & Ruta, Michele, 2013. "Coordination failures in immigration policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 55-67.
    11. Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Steinhardt, Max Friedrich & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2012. "The political economy of trade and migration: Evidence from the US Congress," HWWI Research Papers 136, Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI).
    12. Takao Kato & Chad Sparber, 2013. "Quotas and Quality: The Effect of H-1B Visa Restrictions on the Pool of Prospective Undergraduate Students from Abroad," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 109-126.
    13. Rowena Gray & Gaia Narciso & Gaspare Tortorici, 2017. "Globalization, Agricultural Markets and Mass Migration," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1713, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    14. Facchini, Giovanni & Mayda, Anna Maria & Mishra, Prachi, 2011. "Do interest groups affect US immigration policy?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, pages 114-128.
    15. Thomas C. Leonard, 2005. "Retrospectives: Eugenics and Economics in the Progressive Era," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 207-224.
    16. Anna Maria Mayda, 2006. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 510-530.
    17. Philipp Ager & Casper Worm Hansen, 2016. "National Immigration Quotas and Local Economic Growth," Discussion Papers 16-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    18. Greenwood, Michael J. & Ward, Zachary, 2015. "Immigration quotas, World War I, and emigrant flows from the United States in the early 20th century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 76-96.
    19. Mazza, Isidoro & van Winden, Frans, 1996. "A Political Economic Analysis of Labor Migration and Income Redistribution," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 88(3-4), pages 333-363, September.
    20. Ferrie, Joseph & Hatton, Timothy J., 2013. "Two Centuries of International Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 7866, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    21. Bandiera, Oriana & Rasul, Imran & Viarengo, Martina, 2013. "The Making of Modern America: Migratory Flows in the Age of Mass Migration," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 23-47.
    22. Bandiera, Oriana & Rasul, Imran & Viarengo, Martina, 2013. "The Making of Modern America: Migratory Flows in the Age of Mass Migration," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 23-47.
    23. LEGROS, Patrick & GINSBURGH, Victor, "undated". "The economics of copyright levies on hardware," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2497, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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