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American Education in the Age of Mass Migrations 1870-1930

  • Murtin, Fabrice


    (Stanford University)

  • Viarengo, Martina


    (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva)

This paper derives original series of average years of schooling in the United States 1870-1930, which take into account the impact of mass migrations on the US educational level. We reconstruct the foreign-born US population by age and by country of origin, while combining data on the flow of migrants by country and the age pyramids of migrants by country. Then we use original data on educational attainment in the nineteenth century presented in Morrisson and Murtin (2008) in order to estimate the educational level of US immigrants by age and by country. As a result, our series are consistent with the first national estimates of average schooling in 1940. We show that mass migrations have had a significant but modest impact on the US average educational attainment. However, the educational gap between US natives and immigrants was large and increased with the second immigration wave, a phenomenon that most likely fostered the implementation of restrictive immigration rules in the 1920s.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3964.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Cliometrica, 2010, 4(2), 113-139
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3964
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  1. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2006. "Inequality and Schooling Responses to Globalization Forces: Lessons from History," NBER Working Papers 12553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Goldin, Claudia & Katz, Lawrence F., 2000. "Education and Income in the Early Twentieth Century: Evidence from the Prairies," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 60(03), pages 782-818, September.
  3. Kevin O'Rourke & Alan M. Taylor & Jeffrey G. Williamsmn, 1996. "Land, Labor and the Wage-Rental Ratio: Factor Price Convergence in the Late Nineteenth Century," NBER Historical Working Papers 0046, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2006. "Inequality and schooling responses to globalization forces: lessons from history," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, pages 225-248.
  5. O'Rourke, Kevin H & Taylor, Alan M & Williamson, Jeffrey G, 1996. "Factor Price Convergence in the Late Nineteenth Century," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(3), pages 499-530, August.
  6. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1998. "The Age of Mass Migration: Causes and Economic Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195116519, December.
  7. Sandberg, Lars G., 1979. "The Case of the Impoverished Sophisticate: Human Capital and Swedish Economic Growth before World War I," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 39(01), pages 225-241, March.
  8. Robert W. Fogel, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," NBER Working Papers 4638, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Foreman-Peck, James, 1992. "A Political Economy of International Migration, 1815-1914," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 60(4), pages 359-76, December.
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