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Migrants and the Making of America: The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Immigration during the Age of Mass Migration

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Listed:
  • Sandra Sequeira
  • Nathan Nunn
  • Nancy Qian

Abstract

We study the effects of European immigration to the United States during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920) on economic prosperity today. We exploit variation in the extent of immigration across counties arising from the interaction of fluctuations in aggregate immigrant flows and the gradual expansion of the railway network across the United States. We find that locations with more historical immigration today have higher incomes, less poverty, less unemployment, higher rates of urbanization, and greater educational attainment. The long-run effects appear to arise from the persistence of sizeable short-run benefits, including greater industrialization, increased agricultural productivity, and more innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Sandra Sequeira & Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2017. "Migrants and the Making of America: The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Immigration during the Age of Mass Migration," NBER Working Papers 23289, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23289 Note: DAE DEV ITI POL
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Atkin, 2016. "Endogenous Skill Acquisition and Export Manufacturing in Mexico," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(8), pages 2046-2085, August.
    2. Mette Foged & Giovanni Peri, 2016. "Immigrants' Effect on Native Workers: New Analysis on Longitudinal Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(2), pages 1-34, April.
    3. Rudi Rocha & Claudio Ferraz & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2017. "Human Capital Persistence and Development," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 105-136, October.
    4. Claudia Goldin & Gary D. Libecap, 1994. "Introduction to "The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy"," NBER Chapters,in: The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy, pages 1-12 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hatton, Timothy J. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1998. "The Age of Mass Migration: Causes and Economic Impact," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195116519.
    6. Scott Fulford & Ivan Petkov & Fabio Schiantarelli, 2015. "Does It Matter Where You Came From? Ancestry Composition and Economic Performance of U.S. Counties, 1850-2010," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 875, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 02 Feb 2017.
    7. Claudia Goldin & Gary D. Libecap, 1994. "The Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Economy," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold94-1, January.
    8. Oriana Bandiera & Myra Mohnen & Imran Rasul & Martina Viarengo, 2015. "Nation-Building Through Compulsory Schooling During the Age of Mass Migration," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 057, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    9. Ager, Philipp & Brückner, Markus, 2013. "Cultural diversity and economic growth: Evidence from the US during the age of mass migration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 76-97.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Xie, Bin, 2017. "The Effects of Immigration Quotas on Wages, the Great Black Migration, and Industrial Development," IZA Discussion Papers 11214, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Melissa Dell & Benjamin A. Olken, 2017. "The Development Effects of the Extractive Colonial Economy: The Dutch Cultivation System in Java," NBER Working Papers 24009, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Ager, Philipp & Hansen, Casper Worm, 2017. "Closing Heaven's Door: Evidence from the 1920s U.S. Immigration Quota Acts," Discussion Papers of Business and Economics 11/2017, University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics.
    4. Philipp Ager & Casper Worm Hansen, 2016. "National Immigration Quotas and Local Economic Growth," Discussion Papers 16-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    5. Remi Jedwab & Mark Koyama & Noel Johnson, "undated". "Negative Shocks and Mass Persecutions: Evidence from the Black Death," Working Papers 2017-4, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    6. Francesco Cinnirella & Jochen Streb, 2017. "Religious Tolerance as Engine of Innovation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6797, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Timothy J Hatton & Zachary Ward, 2018. "International Migration in the Atlantic Economy 1850 - 1940," CEH Discussion Papers 02, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N61 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N62 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N72 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N91 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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