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Please call me John: name choice and the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, 1900-1930

Author

Listed:
  • Pedro Carneiro

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)

  • Sokbae (Simon) Lee

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Columbia University and IFS)

  • Hugo Reis

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Abstract

The vast majority of immigrants to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century adopted first names that were common among natives. The rate of adoption of an American name increases with time in the US, although most immigrants adopt an American name within the first year of arrival. Choice of an American first name was associated with a more successful assimilation, as measured by job occupation scores, marriage to a US native and take-up of US citizenship. We examine economic determinants of name choice, by studying the relationship between changes in the proportion of immigrants with an American first name and changes in the concentration of immigrants as well as changes in local labor market conditions, across different census years. We find that high concentrations of immigrants of a given nationality in a particular location discouraged members of that nationality from taking American names. Poor local labor market conditions for immigrants (and good local labor market conditions for natives) led to more frequent name changes among immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedro Carneiro & Sokbae (Simon) Lee & Hugo Reis, 2015. "Please call me John: name choice and the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, 1900-1930," CeMMAP working papers CWP28/15, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:28/15
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1311-45 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2016. "Cultural Assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 22381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:cup:jechis:v:78:y:2018:i:03:p:904-937_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan, 2017. "Immigration in American Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1311-1345, December.
    5. Alexander, Rohan & Ward, Zachary, 2018. "Age at Arrival and Assimilation During the Age of Mass Migration," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 78(03), pages 904-937, September.
    6. 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

    Keywords

    Americanization; culture; first name; identity; immigration;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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