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

Listed author(s):
  • Sandra Sequeira
  • Nathan Nunn
  • Nancy Qian

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23289.

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Date of creation: Mar 2017
Publication status: published as Sandra Sequeira & Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2017. "Migrants and the Making of America: The Shortand Long-Run Effects of Immigration During the Age of Mass Migration," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 15(3), pages 30-34, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23289
Note: DAE DEV ITI POL
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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, November.
  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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