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Resident Impacts of Immigration: Perspectives from America’s Age of Mass Migration


  • Susan B. Carter

    () (Department of Economics, University of California Riverside)

  • Richard C. Sutch

    () (Department of Economics, University of California Riverside)


Elementary economic models are often used to suggest that immigration depresses the wages of native-born workers. These models assume that when immigrants enter a labour market, all other features of that market remain unchanged. Such an assumption is almost never valid. Here we explore the economic impacts of immigrants during America’s Age of Mass Migration a century ago. This was a period of dynamic structural change that witnessed the appearance of new industries, adoption of new technologies, discovery of new mineral resources, the rise of big business, and the geographic concentration of industries. We show that immigrants – and residents – selected destinations where labour demand and wages were rising. Thus, native workers experienced wage increases in the presence of heavy immigration. Models that abstract from the special characteristics of labour markets that attract immigrants misrepresent their economic impact.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan B. Carter & Richard C. Sutch, 2006. "Resident Impacts of Immigration: Perspectives from America’s Age of Mass Migration," Working Papers 200808, University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucr:wpaper:200808

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.),Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760, Elsevier.
    2. Jim Dolmas & Gregory W. Huffman, 2004. "On The Political Economy Of Immigration And Income Redistribution," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1129-1168, November.
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    Immigration; Internal migration; Economic history of immigration; Counterfactual analysis;

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