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Displacement, Diversity, and Mobility: Career Impacts of Japanese American Internment

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  • Arellano-Bover, Jaime

    (University of Rome Tor Vergata)

Abstract

One of the largest population displacement episodes in the U.S. took place in 1942, when over 110,000 persons of Japanese origin living on the West Coast were forcibly sent away to ten internment camps for one to three years. Having lost jobs and assets, after internment they had to reassess labor market and location choices. This paper studies how internees' careers were affected in the long run. Combining Census data, camp records, and survey data I develop a predictor of a person's internment status based on Census observables. Using a difference-in-differences framework I find that internment had a positive average effect on earnings in the long run. Chiefly due to strong pre- WWII anti-Asian discrimination, the comparison group is composed of non-interned Japanese and Chinese Americans. The evidence is consistent with mechanisms related to increased occupational and geographic mobility, possibly facilitated by the camps' high economic diversity. I find no evidence of other potential drivers such as increased labor supply, or changes in cultural preferences. These findings provide evidence of labor market frictions preventing people from accessing their most productive occupations and locations, and shed light on the resilience of internees who overcame a very adverse initial shock.

Suggested Citation

  • Arellano-Bover, Jaime, 2019. "Displacement, Diversity, and Mobility: Career Impacts of Japanese American Internment," IZA Discussion Papers 12554, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp12554
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    Cited by:

    1. Chen, Shuo & Xie, Bin, 2020. "Institutional Discrimination and Assimilation: Evidence from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882," IZA Discussion Papers 13647, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Vitor Possebom, 2021. "Crime and Mismeasured Punishment: Marginal Treatment Effect with Misclassification," Papers 2106.00536, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2022.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    labor mobility; displacement; Japanese American Internment; WorldWar II; diversity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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