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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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  • 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
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Oriana Bandiera & Myra Mohnen & Imran Rasul & Martina Viarengo, 2019. "Nation-building Through Compulsory Schooling during the Age of Mass Migration," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(617), pages 62-109.
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    9. 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 19 Apr 2020.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. La ciudad sí es para mí. Una mirada al pasado del emigrante interno en España
      by Francisco Beltrán Tapia in Nada Es Gratis on 2017-03-15 11:24:32

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    Cited by:

    1. Murard, Elie & Sakalli, Seyhun Orcan, 2018. "Mass Refugee Inflow and Long-Run Prosperity: Lessons from the Greek Population Resettlement," IZA Discussion Papers 11613, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Bracco, Emanuele & De Paola, Maria & Green, Colin P. & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2018. "The effect of far right parties on the location choice of immigrants: Evidence from Lega Nord Mayors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 166(C), pages 12-26.
    3. Docquier, Frédéric & Turati, Riccardo & Valette, Jérôme & Vasilakis, Chrysovalantis, 2018. "Birthplace Diversity and Economic Growth: Evidence from the US States in the Post-World War II Period," IZA Discussion Papers 11802, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Xie, Bin, 2017. "The Effects of Immigration Quotas on Wages, the Great Black Migration, and Industrial Development," IZA Discussion Papers 11214, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Sascha O. Becker & Irena Grosfeld & Pauline Grosjean & Nico Voigtländer & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2020. "Forced Migration and Human Capital: Evidence from Post-WWII Population Transfers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(5), pages 1430-1463, May.
    6. Alexandre Padilla & Nicolás Cachanosky, 2018. "The Grecian horse: does immigration lead to the deterioration of American institutions?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 174(3), pages 351-405, March.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Philipp Ager & Casper Worm Hansen, 2016. "National Immigration Quotas and Local Economic Growth," Discussion Papers 16-11, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    10. Dario Diodato & Andrea Morrison & Sergio Petralia, 2018. "Migration and invention in the age of mass migration," Papers in Evolutionary Economic Geography (PEEG) 1835, Utrecht University, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Group Economic Geography, revised Oct 2018.
    11. Bruno Gabriel Witzel de Souza, 2018. "Immigration and the path dependence of education: the case of German†speakers in São Paulo, Brazil (1840–1920)," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 71(2), pages 506-539, May.
    12. Remi Jedwab & Noel D. Johnson & Mark Koyama, 2019. "Negative shocks and mass persecutions: evidence from the Black Death," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 24(4), pages 345-395, December.
    13. 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.
    14. Frédéric Docquier & Riccardo Turati & Jérôme Valette & Chrysovalantis Vasilakis, 2016. "Multiculturalism and Growth: Skill-Specific Evidence from the Post-World War II Period," Discussion Papers (IRES - Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales) 2016028, Université catholique de Louvain, Institut de Recherches Economiques et Sociales (IRES).
    15. Mounir Karadja & Erik Prawitz, 2019. "Exit, Voice, and Political Change: Evidence from Swedish Mass Migration to the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 127(4), pages 1864-1925.
    16. Cinnirella, Francesco & Streb, Jochen, 2017. "Religious Tolerance as Engine of Innovation," CEPR Discussion Papers 12466, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    17. Peter Akosah-Twumasi & Faith Alele & Amy M. Smith & Theophilus I. Emeto & Daniel Lindsay & Komla Tsey & Bunmi S. Malau-Aduli, 2020. "Prioritising Family Needs: A Grounded Theory of Acculturation for Sub-Saharan African Migrant Families in Australia," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-16, February.

    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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