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Closing Heaven’s Door: Evidence from the 1920s U.S.Immigration Quota Acts

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  • Philipp Ager

    (Department of Business and Economics, University of Southern Denmark)

  • Casper Worm Hansen

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

The introduction of immigration quotas in the 1920s fundamentally changed U.S. immigration policy. We exploit this policy change to estimate the economic consequences of immigration restrictions for the U.S. economy. The implementation of the quota system led to a long-lasting relative decline in population growth in areas with larger pre-existing immigrant communities of affected nationalities. This effect was largely driven by the policy-restricted supply of immigrants from quota-affected nationalities and lower fertility of first- and second-generation immigrant women. In the more affected areas labor productivity growth in manufacturing declined substantially and native workers were pushed into lower-wage occupations. While native white workers faced sizable earnings losses, black workers benefited from the quota system and improved their relative economic status within the more affected areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Philipp Ager & Casper Worm Hansen, 2017. "Closing Heaven’s Door: Evidence from the 1920s U.S.Immigration Quota Acts," Discussion Papers 17-22, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1722
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    Cited by:

    1. Xie, Bin, 2017. "The Effects of Immigration Quotas on Wages, the Great Black Migration, and Industrial Development," IZA Discussion Papers 11214, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. repec:cup:jechis:v:79:y:2019:i:02:p:356-382_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:nbr:nberch:14102 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Vasiliki Fouka & Soumyajit Mazumder & Marco Tabellini, 2019. "From Immigrants to Americans: Race and Assimilation during the Great Migration," Development Working Papers 445, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 04 Feb 2019.
    5. O’Rourke, Kevin Hjortshøj, 2019. "Economic History and Contemporary Challenges to Globalization," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 79(02), pages 356-382, June.
    6. 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 restrictions; productivity growth; local labor markets; racial wage gap;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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