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Skill Selection and American Immigration Policy in the Interwar Period

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  • Alexander A. J. Wulfers

Abstract

Abstract The Age of Mass Migration came to an end in the interwar period with new American immigration restrictions, but did this end affect some potential migrants more than others? I use previously unanalysed data from passenger lists of ships leaving Bremen, one of the major European ports of emigration, between 1920 and 1933, to identify occupations and skill levels of individual migrants. The main focus of the paper is on the role that policy played in influencing the selection of migrants. I study the American quota laws of 1921, 1924, and 1929, and find that increasingly strict quotas led to an increase in the skill level of migrants as well as a shift from agricultural to manufacturing workers first, and from manufacturing to professional workers later.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander A. J. Wulfers, 2018. "Skill Selection and American Immigration Policy in the Interwar Period," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _161, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:esohwp:_161
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    File URL: https://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/working_papers/4585/161january-wulfers.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Matías COVARRUBIAS & Jeanne LAFORTUNE & José TESSADA, 2015. "Who Comes and Why ? Determinants of Immigrants Skill Level in the Early XXth Century US," JODE - Journal of Demographic Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 81(1), pages 115-155, March.
    2. Bandiera, Oriana & Rasul, Imran & Viarengo, Martina, 2013. "The Making of Modern America: Migratory Flows in the Age of Mass Migration," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 23-47.
    3. repec:cup:jdemec:v:81:y:2015:i:01:p:115-155_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Mckenzie, David & Rapoport, Hillel, 2007. "Network effects and the dynamics of migration and inequality: Theory and evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 1-24, September.
    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. Barry Chiswick, 1999. "Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 181-185, May.
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    1. repec:eee:deveco:v:134:y:2018:i:c:p:226-247 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration policy; skill selection; quotas; United States; Bremen; interwar period;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • K37 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Immigration Law
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-

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