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

  • Ran Abramitzky
  • Leah Platt Boustan
  • Katherine Eriksson

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.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w18011.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18011.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Publication status: published as “A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration,” with Leah Boustan and Katherine Eriksson, forthcoming Journal of Political Economy [current draft: August 2013]
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18011
Note: DAE LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  8. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2012. "Europe's Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses: Self-Selection and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 1832-56, August.
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  16. Galor, Oded & Stark, Oded, 1990. "Migrants' Savings, the Probability of Return Migration and Migrants' Performance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 31(2), pages 463-67, May.
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  22. Joel Perlmann, 1998. "Selective Migration as a Basis for Upward Mobility? The Occupation of the Jewish Immigrants to the United States, ca. 1900," Macroeconomics 9805023, EconWPA, revised 24 Feb 1999.
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