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Does It Matter Where You Came From? Ancestry Composition and Economic Performance of U.S. Counties, 1850-2010

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  • Fulford, Scott L.

    () (Boston College)

  • Petkov, Ivan

    () (Boston College)

  • Schiantarelli, Fabio

    () (Boston College)

Abstract

The United States provides a unique laboratory for understanding how the cultural, institutional, and human capital endowments of immigrant groups shape economic outcomes. In this paper, we use census micro-sample information to reconstruct the country-of-ancestry distribution for US counties from 1850 to 2010. We also develop a county-level measure of GDP per capita over the same period. Using this novel panel data set, we investigate whether changes in the ancestry composition of a county matter for local economic development and the channels through which the cultural, institutional, and educational legacy of the country of origin affects economic outcomes in the US. Our results show that the evolution of the country-of-origin composition of a county matters. Moreover, the culture, institutions, and human capital that the immigrant groups brought with them and pass on to their children are positively associated with local development in the US. Among these factors, measures of culture that capture attitudes towards cooperation play the most important and robust role. Finally, our results suggest that while fractionalization of ancestry groups is positively related with county GDP, fractionalization in attributes such as trust, is negatively related to local economic performance.

Suggested Citation

  • Fulford, Scott L. & Petkov, Ivan & Schiantarelli, Fabio, 2015. "Does It Matter Where You Came From? Ancestry Composition and Economic Performance of U.S. Counties, 1850-2010," IZA Discussion Papers 9060, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9060
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alberto Alesina & Johann Harnoss & Hillel Rapoport, 2016. "Birthplace diversity and economic prosperity," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(2), pages 101-138, June.
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    7. Abhijit Banerjee & Lakshmi Iyer, 2005. "History, Institutions, and Economic Performance: The Legacy of Colonial Land Tenure Systems in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 1190-1213, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frédéric Docquier & Riccardo Turati & Jérôme Valette & Chrysovalantis Vasilakis, 2016. "Multiculturalism and Growth: Skill-Specific Evidence from the Post-World War II Period," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2016028, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    2. Burchardi, Konrad B. & Chaney, Thomas & Hassan, Tarek, 2015. "Migrants, Ancestors, and Investments," CEPR Discussion Papers 11025, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Docquier, Frédéric & Turati, Riccardo & Valette, Jérôme & Vasilakis, Chrysovalantis, 2018. "Birthplace Diversity and Economic Growth: Evidence from the US States in the Post-World War II Period," IZA Discussion Papers 11802, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Sandra Sequeira & Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2017. "Migrants and the Making of America: The Shortand Long-Run Effects of Immigration During the Age of Mass Migration," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 15(3), pages 30-34, October.
    5. Jaeger, David A & Ruist, Joakim & Stuhler, Jan, 2018. "Shift-Share Instruments and the Impact of Immigration," CEPR Discussion Papers 12701, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Valeria Rueda & Guillaume Laval & Etienne Patin, 2016. "Achieving the American Dream: Cultural Distance, Cultural Diversity and Economic Performance," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _140, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. Hirsch, Barry & Husain, Muhammad M. & Winters, John V., 2016. "The Puzzling Fixity of Multiple Job Holding across Regions and Labor Markets," IZA Discussion Papers 9631, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Ager, Philipp & Hansen, Casper Worm, 2017. "Closing Heaven's Door: Evidence from the 1920s U.S. Immigration Quota Acts," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 11/2017, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
    9. Philipp Ager & Casper Worm Hansen, 2016. "National Immigration Quotas and Local Economic Growth," Discussion Papers 16-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    10. Arun Advani & Bryony Reich, 2015. "Melting pot or salad bowl: the formation of heterogeneous communities," IFS Working Papers W15/30, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    11. Valeria Rueda, 2016. "When the times they’re not a changin': Essays on the persistent effects of religion, investments, and ancestry on economic, social, and political behaviors at the subnational level," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/7t43ra4ari8, Sciences Po.
    12. Timothy J Hatton & Zachary Ward, 2018. "International Migration in the Atlantic Economy 1850 - 1940," CEH Discussion Papers 02, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration; ethnicity; ancestry; economic development; culture; institutions; human capital;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • Z10 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - General

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