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The Impact of Bismarck's Social Legislation on German Emigration Before World War I


  • Khoudour-Casteras, David


The rapid decline of German emigration before World War I constitutes a puzzle that traditional explanations (decrease in the international wage gap, growing industrialization, fall in the fertility or international competition with other migrants) can only partly solve. It therefore seems necessary to go more deeply into the question, in particular by looking into the social legislation implemented by Bismarck during the 1880s. Actually, the German insurance system was one of the most developed in the pre-1914 world and it probably contributed to deterring labor outflows. The main explanation is that candidates for migration consider not only the gap between direct wages in sending and receiving countries, but also the differential in “indirect wages†, that is, social benefits. As a matter of fact, the existence of such benefits constitutes a form of social remuneration that partly offsets low levels of wage rates in sending countries. In that perspective, the econometric tests run in the paper show that the increase in German indirect wages after 1885 was accompanied by a significant decrease in emigration rates.

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  • Khoudour-Casteras, David, 2004. "The Impact of Bismarck's Social Legislation on German Emigration Before World War I," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt6cs0d4xw, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt6cs0d4xw

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Williamson Jeffrey G., 1995. "The Evolution of Global Labor Markets since 1830: Background Evidence and Hypotheses," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 141-196, April.
    2. Walter F. Willcox, 1929. "International Migrations, Volume I: Statistics," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fere29-1, January.
    3. Hatton, T.J. & Williamson, J.G., 1992. "What Drove the Mass Migrations from Europe in the Late Ninteenth Century," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1614, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    4. Carolyn L. Weaver, 1987. "Support of the Elderly before the Depression: Individual and Collective Arrangements," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 7(2), pages 503-525, Fall.
    5. Blanca Sánchez-Alonso, 2000. "European emigration in the late nineteenth century: the paradoxical case of Spain," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 53(2), pages 309-330, May.
    6. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1996. "Globalization, Convergence, and History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(02), pages 277-306, June.
    7. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1998. "The Age of Mass Migration: Causes and Economic Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195116519, June.
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