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The Seeds of Ideology: Historical Immigration and Political Preferences in the United States

Author

Listed:
  • Giuliano, Paola

    (University of California, Los Angeles)

  • Tabellini, Marco

    (Harvard Business School)

Abstract

We test the relationship between historical immigration to the United States and political ideology today. We hypothesize that European immigrants brought with them their preferences for the welfare state, and that this had a long-lasting effect on the political ideology of US born individuals. Our analysis proceeds in three steps. First, we document that the historical presence of European immigrants is associated with a more liberal political ideology and with stronger preferences for redistribution among US born individuals today. Next, we show that this correlation is not driven by the characteristics of the counties where immigrants settled or other specific, socioeconomic immigrants' traits. Finally, we conjecture and provide evidence that immigrants brought with them their preferences for the welfare state from their countries of origin. Consistent with the hypothesis that immigration left its footprint on American ideology via cultural transmission from immigrants to natives, we show that our results are stronger when inter-group contact between natives and immigrants, measured with either intermarriage or residential integration, was higher. Our findings also indicate that immigrants influenced American political ideology during one of the largest episodes of redistribution in US history — the New Deal — and that such effects persisted after the initial shock.

Suggested Citation

  • Giuliano, Paola & Tabellini, Marco, 2020. "The Seeds of Ideology: Historical Immigration and Political Preferences in the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 13268, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp13268
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    1. The Seeds of Ideology: Historical Immigration and Political Preferences in the United States
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    3. Zenou, Yves & Biavaschi, Costanza & Giulietti, Corrado, 2021. "Social Networks and (Political) Assimilation in the Age of Mass Migration," CEPR Discussion Papers 16182, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Tabellini, Marco & Gagliarducci, Stefano, 2021. "Faith and Assimilation: Italian Immigrants in the US," CEPR Discussion Papers 15794, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Michael Kwame Dzordzormenyoh & Deion Perkins, 2022. "Immigration in the United States: Exploring the Factors that Predict Public Support for Police Stops Targeted at Illegal Immigrants & Immigrants with Criminal Background," Journal of International Migration and Integration, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 1545-1566, September.
    6. Barbara Boelmann & Anna Christina Raute & Uta Schönberg, 2021. "Wind of Change? Cultural Determinants of Maternal Labor Supply," CESifo Working Paper Series 9094, CESifo.
    7. Adam Levai & Riccardo Turati, 2021. "The Impact of Immigration on Workers’ Protection," LIDAM Discussion Papers IRES 2021021, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES), revised 07 Sep 2021.
    8. Philipp Jaschke & Sulin Sardoschau & Marco Tabellini, 2023. "Scared Straight? Threat and Assimilation of Refugees in Germany," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 384, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    9. Eric Chyn & Kareem Haggag & Bryan A. Stuart, 2022. "The Effects of Racial Segregation on Intergenerational Mobility: Evidence from Historical Railroad Placement," NBER Working Papers 30563, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Rapoport & Hillel & Sulin Sardoschau & Arthur Silve & Hillel Rapoport, 2020. "Migration and Cultural Change," CESifo Working Paper Series 8547, CESifo.
    11. Åkesson, Jesper & Hahn, Robert & Metcalfe, Robert & Rasooly, Itzhak, 2022. "Race and Redistribution in the United States: An Experimental Analysis," SocArXiv 9pr34, Center for Open Science.
    12. Luigi Minale & Rudi Rocha & Bruno Vigna, 2024. "Immigrant Diversity and Long-Run Development," RF Berlin - CReAM Discussion Paper Series 2408, Rockwool Foundation Berlin (RF Berlin) - Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM).
    13. Barbara Boelmann & Anna Raute & Uta Schönberg, 2021. "Wind of Change? Cultural Determinants of Maternal Labor Supply," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 090, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    14. Jérôme Gonnot & Federica lo Polito, 2023. "Cultural Transmission and Political Attitudes: Explaining Differences between Natives and Immigrants in Western Europe," Working Papers 2023-12, CEPII research center.
    15. Benjamin Elsner & Jeff Concannon, 2020. "Immigration and Redistribution," Working Papers 202024, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    16. Grossmann, Jakub & Jurajda, Štepán & Roesel, Felix, 2021. "Forced Migration, Staying Minorities, and New Societies: Evidence from Post-War Czechoslovakia," IZA Discussion Papers 14191, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Anna Maria Mayda & Mine Z. Senses & Walter Steingress, 2023. "Immigration and Provision of Public Goods: Evidence at the Local Level in the U.S," Staff Working Papers 23-57, Bank of Canada.
    18. Raphael Corbi & Fabio Miessi Sanches, 2022. "What Drives Religiosity in America? Evidence from an Empirical Hotelling Model of Church Competition," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2022_08, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    19. Michael K. Dzordzormenyoh & Francis D. Boateng, 2023. "Immigration Politics and Policymaking in the USA (2017–2021): Examining the Effect of Geopolitics on Public Attitude Towards Immigration Policies," Journal of International Migration and Integration, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 1281-1303, September.
    20. Alvaro Calderon & Vasiliki Fouka & Marco Tabellini, 2021. "Racial Diversity and Racial Policy Preferences: The Great Migration and Civil Rights," RF Berlin - CReAM Discussion Paper Series 2133, Rockwool Foundation Berlin (RF Berlin) - Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; culture; political ideology; preferences for redistribution;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • 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-
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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