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Late-Comers to Mass Emigration: The Latin Experience


  • Timothy J. Hatton
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson


The Latin countries -- Italy, Portugal and Spain -- were industrial late-comers and only experienced mass emigration late in the 19th century. When they did join the European mass migration, they did so in great numbers. The fact that they joined the mass migrations late, that they were poor by West European standards, and that so many went to Latin America, has generated a number of debates on both sides of the Atlantic. This paper uses a late 19th century panel data set (including purchasing-power-parity adjusted real wages) for twelve European countries to find that Latin emigration behavior was no different than that of northwestern Europe: for example, Latin emigrant labor supplies were not relatively elastic, contrary to the hypothesis made famous by Sir Arthur Lewis. What made Latin experience different was the underlying economic and demographic fundamentals driving the experience.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1993. "Late-Comers to Mass Emigration: The Latin Experience," NBER Historical Working Papers 0047, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0047 Note: DAE

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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandra Venturini & Riccardo Faini, 2008. "Development and Migration: Lessons from Southern Europe," CHILD Working Papers wp10_08, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
    2. Roses, Joan R. & Sanchez-Alonso, Blanca, 2004. "Regional wage convergence in Spain 1850-1930," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 404-425, October.
    3. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 1998. "Real Wages and Relative Factor Prices in the Third World 1820-1940: Latin America," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1853, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    4. Faini, Riccardo & Galli, Giampaolo & Gennari, Pietro & Rossi, Fulvio, 1997. "An empirical puzzle: Falling migration and growing unemployment differentials among Italian regions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(3-5), pages 571-579, April.
    5. Catia Batista, 2008. "Why Doesn't Labor Flow from Poor to Rich Countries? Micro Evidence from the European Integration Experience," Economics Series Working Papers 402, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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