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Cultural Assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration

Author

Listed:
  • Ran Abramitzky
  • Leah Platt Boustan
  • Katherine Eriksson

Abstract

Using two million census records, we document cultural assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration, a formative period in US history. Immigrants chose less foreign names for children as they spent more time in the US, eventually closing half of the gap with natives. Many immigrants also intermarried and learned English. Name-based assimilation was similar by literacy status, and faster for immigrants who were more culturally distant from natives. Cultural assimilation affected the next generation. Within households, brothers with more foreign names completed fewer years of schooling, faced higher unemployment, earned less and were more likely to marry foreign-born spouses.

Suggested Citation

  • Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2016. "Cultural Assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 22381, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22381
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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 1832-1856, August.
    2. Francine Blau & Lawrence Kahn & Albert Liu & Kerry Papps, 2013. "The transmission of women’s fertility, human capital, and work orientation across immigrant generations," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 26(2), pages 405-435, April.
    3. Alberto Bisin & Thierry Verdier, 2000. ""Beyond the Melting Pot": Cultural Transmission, Marriage, and the Evolution of Ethnic and Religious Traits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 955-988.
    4. Carneiro, Pedro & Lee, Sokbae & Reis, Hugo, 2020. "Please call me John: Name choice and the assimilation of immigrants in the United States, 1900–1930," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    5. Yann Algan & Thierry Mayer & Mathias Thoenig, 2013. "The Economic Incentives of Cultural Transmission: Spatial Evidence from Naming Patterns across France," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/bakbbitll86, Sciences Po.
    6. Alessandra Fogli & Raquel Fernandez, 2009. "Culture: An Empirical Investigation of Beliefs, Work, and Fertility," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 146-177, January.
    7. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 991-1013, September.
    8. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2014. "A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 122(3), pages 467-506.
    9. Yann Algan & Thierry Mayer & Mathias Thoenig, 2013. "The Economic Incentives of Cultural Transmission: Spatial : Spatial Evidence from Naming Patterns across France," Working Papers 2013-25, CEPII research center.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Battaglia, Marianna & Chabé-Ferret, Bastien & Lebedinski, Lara, 2017. "Segregation and Fertility: The Case of the Roma in Serbia," IZA Discussion Papers 10929, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Ward, Zachary, 2017. "Birds of passage: Return migration, self-selection and immigration quotas," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 37-52.
    3. Xu, Dafeng, 2017. "Acculturational homophily," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 29-42.
    4. Samuel Bazzi & Arya Gaduh & Alexander D. Rothenberg & Maisy Wong, 2019. "Unity in Diversity? How Intergroup Contact Can Foster Nation Building," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(11), pages 3978-4025, November.
    5. Peter Grajzl & Jonathan Eastwood & Valentina Dimitrova-Grajzl, 2017. "Should Immigrants Culturally Assimilate or Preserve Their Own Culture? Individual Beliefs and the Longevity of National Identity," CESifo Working Paper Series 6470, CESifo.
    6. Cheng, Hua & Hu, Cui & Li, Ben G., 2020. "Lexicographic biases in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    7. Giuliano, Paola & Nunn, Nathan, 2017. "Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change," IZA Discussion Papers 10930, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Marina Gindelsky, 2019. "Testing the acculturation of the 1.5 generation in the United States: Is there a “critical” age of migration?," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 31-65, March.
    9. Dafeng Xu, 2018. "Transportation assimilation revisited: New evidence from repeated cross-sectional survey data," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(4), pages 1-20, April.
    10. Xu, Dafeng, 2019. "Surname-based ethnicity and ethnic segregation in the early twentieth century U.S," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 1-19.
    11. Johannes C. Buggle, 2017. "Irrigation, Collectivism and Long-Run Technological Divergence," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'économie 17.06, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, Département d’économie.
    12. Chabé-Ferret, Bastien, 2019. "Adherence to cultural norms and economic incentives: Evidence from fertility timing decisions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 24-48.
    13. Nikoloz Kudashvili & Philipp Lergetporer, 2019. "Do Minorities Misrepresent Their Ethnicity to Avoid Discrimination?," CESifo Working Paper Series 7861, CESifo.
    14. Nikoloz Kudashvili & Philipp Lergetporer, 2019. "Do Minorities Misrepresent Their Ethnicity to Avoid Discrimination?," CESifo Working Paper Series 7861, CESifo.
    15. Gonnot, Jérôme, 2020. "The Evolution of First-Generation Immigrants' Political Preferences in Western Europe," TSE Working Papers 20-1145, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
    16. Štěpán Jurajda & Dejan Kovač, 2021. "Names and behavior in a war," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(1), pages 1-33, January.
    17. Gradstein, Mark & Justman, Moshe, 2019. "Cultural interaction and economic development: An overview," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 243-251.
    18. Ryan H. Murphy & Alex Nowrasteh, 2018. "The deep roots of economic development in the U.S. states: an application of Putterman and Weil (2010)," Journal of Bioeconomics, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 227-242, July.
    19. Chen, Shuo & Xie, Bin, 2020. "Institutional Discrimination and Assimilation: Evidence from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882," IZA Discussion Papers 13647, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    20. Vasiliki Fouka & Soumyajit Mazumder & Marco Tabellini, 2018. "From Immigrants to Americans: Race and Assimilation during the Great Migration," Harvard Business School Working Papers 19-018, Harvard Business School, revised Jun 2019.
    21. Christopher Ellis & Jon C. Thompson & Jiabin Wu, 2020. "Labor market characteristics and cultural choice," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 22(5), pages 1584-1617, September.
    22. Dheer, Ratan J.S. & Lenartowicz, Tomasz, 2020. "Effect of generational status on immigrants’ intentions to start new ventures: The role of cognitions," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 55(3).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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