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Immigrants' Genes: Genetic Diversity and Economics Development in the US

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  • Philipp Ager
  • Markus Brueckner

Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between immigrants’ genetic diversity and economic development in the United States during the late 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, a period commonly referred to as the age of mass migration from Europe to the New World. Our panel model estimates show that during this period, immigrants’ genetic diversity is significantly positively correlated with measures of US counties’ economic development. There exists also a significant positive relationship between immigrants’ genetic diversity in 1870 and contemporaneous measures of US counties’ average income. Our findings demonstrate that a significant relationship between genetic diversity and economic growth does not imply that economic development outcomes are deterministic. Episodes of mass immigration, as experienced in the United States during the 19th century, can significantly change the genetic diversity of countries; and by doing so, they affect countries’ development path.

Suggested Citation

  • Philipp Ager & Markus Brueckner, 2017. "Immigrants' Genes: Genetic Diversity and Economics Development in the US," CEH Discussion Papers 10, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:hpaper:061
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/ceh/WP201710.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Louis Putterman & David N. Weil, 2010. "Post-1500 Population Flows and The Long-Run Determinants of Economic Growth and Inequality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1627-1682.
    2. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "Genetic Diversity and the Origins of Cultural Fragmentation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(3), pages 528-533, May.
    3. Ager, Philipp & Brückner, Markus, 2013. "Cultural diversity and economic growth: Evidence from the US during the age of mass migration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 76-97.
    4. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "Europe's Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses: Self-Selection and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1832-1856, August.
    5. Wegge, Simone A., 1998. "Chain Migration and Information Networks: Evidence From Nineteenth-Century Hesse-Cassel," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(4), pages 957-986, December.
    6. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2013. "The 'Out of Africa' Hypothesis, Human Genetic Diversity, and Comparative Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(1), pages 1-46, February.
    7. Enrico Spolaore & Romain Wacziarg, 2013. "How Deep Are the Roots of Economic Development?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(2), pages 325-369, June.
    8. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1998. "The Age of Mass Migration: Causes and Economic Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195116519.
    9. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650592.
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    Cited by:

    1. Simplice A. Asongu & Oasis Kodila†Tedika, 2017. "Is Poverty in the African DNA (Gene)?," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 85(4), pages 533-552, December.
    2. repec:kap:jecgro:v:23:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s10887-018-9157-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Philipp Ager & Casper Worm Hansen, 2016. "National Immigration Quotas and Local Economic Growth," Discussion Papers 16-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    4. Quamrul H. Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2018. "The Macrogenoeconomics of Comparative Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 56(3), pages 1119-1155, September.
    5. Rodr�guez-Pose, Andr�s & von Berlepsch, Viola, 2017. "Does population diversity matter for economic development in the very long-term? Historic migration, diversity and county wealth in the US," CEPR Discussion Papers 12347, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. C. Justin Cook & Jason M. Fletcher, 2018. "High-school genetic diversity and later-life student outcomes: micro-level evidence from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 307-339, September.
    7. Gradstein, Mark & Justman, Moshe, 2018. "Diversity and Growth," IZA Discussion Papers 11553, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Oasis Kodila-Tedika & Simplice A. Asongu, 2016. "Genetic distance and cognitive human capital: a cross-national investigation," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 33-51, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic Growth; Genetic Diversity; Immigration; Melting Pot;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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