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The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization

  • Biavaschi, Costanza


    (University of Reading)

  • Giulietti, Corrado



  • Siddique, Zahra


    (University of Reading)

We examine the impact of the Americanization of names on the labor market outcomes of migrants. We construct a novel longitudinal data set of naturalization records in which we track a complete sample of migrants who naturalize by 1930. We find that migrants who Americanized their names experienced larger occupational upgrading. Some, such as those who changed to very popular American names like John or William, obtained gains in occupation-based earnings of at least 14%. We show that these estimates are causal effects by using an index of linguistic complexity based on Scrabble points as an instrumental variable that predicts name Americanization. We conclude that the tradeoff between individual identity and labor market success was present since the early making of modern America.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7725.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7725
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  1. Mahmood Arai & Peter Skogman Thoursie, 2009. "Renouncing Personal Names: An Empirical Examination of Surname Change and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(1), pages 127-147, 01.
  2. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2003. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," NBER Working Papers 9873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "Europe's Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses: Self-Selection and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1832-56, August.
  4. Saku Aura & Gregory D. Hess, 2004. "What’s in a Name?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1190, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:715-753 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 18011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bandiera, Oriana & Rasul, Imran & Viarengo, Martina, 2012. "The Making of Modern America: Migratory Flows in the Age of Mass Migration," CEPR Discussion Papers 9248, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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