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The Pro-Trade Effect of Immigration on American Exports During the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

  • Dunlevy, James A.

    (affiliation not available)

  • Hutchinson, William K.

    (affiliation not available)

The belief that immigrants generate beneficial externalities in their host countries, specifically in the form of an increased opportunity and ability of firms to expand their foreign trade, has recently been challenged by George Borjas in Heaven’s Door (1999, p. 97) as having no empirical support. Borjas’ assertion ignores several recent papers that provide precisely that evidence of a powerful pro-trade effect of international migration. Here we extend that body of evidence by looking to history. We show that immigration, primarily from Europe between 1870 and 1910, had an important pro-trade effect on American exports. Our data set spans the exports of 44 commodities to 17 countries observed at 5 year intervals. We use a modified gravity model to examine the migrant stock-export relationship and find that United States exports to a country were positively related to the size of the migrant stock of immigrants from that country. The estimated strength of the effect varied across "Old" Europe, "New" Europe, and non-Europe groupings of the trading partner countries. Exports were also found to have been greater to English-speaking countries, and to countries with per capita incomes similar to the United States. This relative per capita income effect became stronger during the latter part of the period, whereas the migrant stock effect diminished after 1885.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 375.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp375
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  1. Dunlevy, James A. & Saba, Richard P., 1992. "The role of nationality-specific characteristics on the settlement patterns of late nineteenth century immigrants," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 228-249, April.
  2. Peter Kennedy, 2003. "A Guide to Econometrics, 5th Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 5, volume 1, number 026261183x, June.
  3. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1985. "The Gravity Equation in International Trade: Some Microeconomic Foundations and Empirical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 474-81, August.
  4. Dunlevy, James A. & Gemery, Henry A., 1978. "Economic Opportunity and the Responses of “Old” and “New” Migrants to the United States," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(04), pages 901-917, December.
  5. Deardorff, A.V., 1995. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade : Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," Papers 95-05, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  6. Irwin, Douglas A, 1996. "The United States in a New Global Economy? A Century's Perspective," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 41-46, May.
  7. Dunlevy, James A, 1980. "A Test of the Capacity Pressure Hypothesis within a Simultaneous Equations Model of Export Performance," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 62(1), pages 131-35, February.
  8. Dunlevy, James A. & Hutchinson, William K., 1999. "The Impact of Immigration on American Import Trade in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 1043-1062, December.
  9. Gould, David M, 1994. "Immigrant Links to the Home Country: Empirical Implications for U.S. Bilateral Trade Flows," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(2), pages 302-16, May.
  10. James E. Rauch, 1996. "Trade and Search: Social Capital, Sogo Shosha, and Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 5618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Raynold, Prosper & A. Dunlevy, James, 1998. "Aggregate Shocks and the Relationship between U.S. Business Cycle Fluctuations and Export Performance," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 13, pages 163-198.
  12. Haveman, J. & Hummels, D., 1997. "What Can We Learn from Bilateral Trade? Gravity and Beyond," Papers 97-002, Purdue University, Krannert School of Management - Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER).
  13. Keith Head & John Ries, 1998. "Immigration and Trade Creation: Econometric Evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 31(1), pages 47-62, February.
  14. Rauch, James E, 1991. "Reconciling the Pattern of Trade with the Pattern of Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 775-96, September.
  15. Robert E. Lipsey, 1963. "Price and Quantity Trends in the Foreign Trade of the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lips63-1, December.
  16. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1989. "The Generalized Gravity Equation, Monopolistic Competition, and the Factor-Proportions Theory in International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(1), pages 143-53, February.
  17. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1990. "The Heckscher-Ohlin-Samuelson Model, the Linder Hypothesis and the Determinants of Bilateral Intra-industry Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(403), pages 1216-29, December.
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