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The Entry Into the U.S. Labor Market of Antebellum European Immigrants, 1840-60

Author

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  • Joseph P. Ferrie

Abstract

This study examines the occupational mobility of antebellum immigrants as they entered the U.S. White collar, skilled, and semi-skilled immigrants left unskilled jobs more rapidly after arrival than farmers and unskilled workers. British and German immigrants fared better than the Irish; literate immigrants in rapidly growing counties and places with many immigrants fared best. These findings have implications for (1) the accuracy of estimates of immigrant occupational mobility; (2) the size of the human capital transfer resulting from antebellum immigration; and (3) the causes of the difficulty experienced by some immigrant groups in transferring their skills to the U.S.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph P. Ferrie, 1996. "The Entry Into the U.S. Labor Market of Antebellum European Immigrants, 1840-60," NBER Historical Working Papers 0088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0088
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/h0088.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hanes, Christopher, 1996. "Immigrants' Relative Rate of Wage Growth in the Late 19th Century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 35-64, January.
    2. Robert A. Margo, 1992. "Wages and Prices during the Antebellum Period: A Survey and New Evidence," NBER Chapters,in: American Economic Growth and Standards of Living before the Civil War, pages 173-216 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Chiswick, Barry R., 1991. "Jewish immigrant skill and occupational attainment at the turn of the century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 64-86, January.
    4. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
    5. George J. Borjas, 1986. "The Self-Employment Experience of Immigrants," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(4), pages 485-506.
    6. Carter, Susan B. & Savoca, Elizabeth, 1990. "Labor Mobility and Lengthy Jobs in Nineteenth-Century America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(01), pages 1-16, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Salisbury, Laura, 2014. "Selective migration, wages, and occupational mobility in nineteenth century America," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 40-63.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

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