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International Migration in the Long-Run: Positive Selection, Negative Selection and Policy

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  • Timothy J. Hatton
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

Abstract

Most labor scarce overseas countries moved decisively to restrict their immigration during the first third of the 20th century. This autarchic retreat from unrestricted and even publicly-subsidized immigration in the first global century before World War I to the quotas and bans introduced afterwards was the result of a combination of factors: public hostility towards new immigrants of lower quality public assessment of the impact of those immigrants on a deteriorating labor market, political participation of those impacted, and, as a triggering mechanism, the sudden shocks to the labor market delivered by the 1890s depression, the Great War, postwar adjustment and the great depression. The paper documents the secular drift from very positive to much more negative immigrant selection which took place in the first global century after 1820 and in the second global century after 1950, and seeks explanations for it. It then explores the political economy of immigrant restriction in the past and seeks historical lessons for the present.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2004. "International Migration in the Long-Run: Positive Selection, Negative Selection and Policy," NBER Working Papers 10529, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10529
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anna Maria Mayda, 2006. "Who Is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 510-530, August.
    2. Lutz Hendricks, 2002. "How Important Is Human Capital for Development? Evidence from Immigrant Earnings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 198-219, March.
    3. Ximena Clark & Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "Where Do U.S. Immigrants Come From, and Why?," NBER Working Papers 8998, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Borjas, George J, 1987. "Self-Selection and the Earnings of Immigrants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 531-553, September.
    5. George J. Borjas, 1993. "Immigration Policy, National Origin, and Immigrant Skills: A Comparison of Canada and the United States," NBER Chapters,in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 21-44 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. O'Rourke, Kevin H. & Sinnott, Richard, 2006. "The determinants of individual attitudes towards immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 838-861, December.
    7. Heather Antecol & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Stephen J. Trejo, 2003. "Immigration Policy and the Skills of Immigrants to Australia, Canada, and the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1).
    8. Hatton, Timothy J., 1997. "The Immigrant Assimilation Puzzle in Late Nineteenth-Centuty America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(1), pages 34-62, March.
    9. Baker, Michael & Benjamin, Dwayne, 1994. "The Performance of Immigrants in the Canadian Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(3), pages 369-405, July.
    10. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 239-281, April.
    11. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1986. "The Impact of the Irish on British Labor Markets During the Industrial Revolution," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(3), pages 693-720, September.
    12. Rosenberg, Nathan, 1967. "Anglo-American Wage Differences in the 1820's," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 221-229, June.
    13. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650592.
    14. Heather Antecol & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Stephen J. Trejo, 2003. "Immigration Policy and the Skills of Immigrants to Australia, Canada, and the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 38(1).
    15. Minns, Chris, 2000. "Income, Cohort Effects, and Occupational Mobility: A New Look at Immigration to the United States at the Turn of the 20th Century," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 326-350, October.
    16. Hatton, T J & Boyer, G R & Bailey, R E, 1994. "The Union Wage Effect in Late Nineteenth Century Britain," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 61(244), pages 435-456, November.
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    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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