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A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration

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  • Ran Abramitzky
  • Leah Platt Boustan
  • Katherine Eriksson

Abstract

During the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913), the US maintained an open border, absorbing 30 million European immigrants. Prior cross-sectional work on this era finds that immigrants initially held lower-paid occupations than natives but experienced rapid convergence over time. In newly-assembled panel data, we show that, in fact, the average immigrant did not face a substantial occupation-based earnings penalty upon first arrival and experienced occupational advancement at the same rate as natives. Cross-sectional patterns are driven by biases from declining arrival cohort quality and departures of negatively-selected return migrants. We show that assimilation patterns vary substantially across sending countries and persist in the second generation.

Suggested Citation

  • Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 18011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18011
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • 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

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