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Identity and Mobility: Historical Fractionalization, Parochial Institutions, and Occupational Choice in the American Midwest

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Abstract

This paper examines the role played by identity, or a sense of belonging to a home community, in determining occupational choice and mobility. The analysis links competition between migrant networks in the Midwest when it was rst developing, and the in-group identity that emerged endogenously to support these networks, to institutional participation and occupational choice today. Individuals born in counties with greater ethnic fractionalization in 1860, where identity was more likely to have emerged, are (i) significantly more likely to participate in institutions such as churches and parochial schools that transmit identity from one generation to the next, and (ii) significantly less likely to select into mobile skilled occupations 150 years later. The effect of historical fractionalization on participation in these socializing institutions actually grows stronger over the course of the twentieth century, emphasizing the idea that small initial differences in identity can have large long-term effects on institutions and economic choices.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaivan Munshi & Nicholas Wilson, 2010. "Identity and Mobility: Historical Fractionalization, Parochial Institutions, and Occupational Choice in the American Midwest," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-20, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Dec 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:wil:wileco:2010-20
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert A. Blecker & Arslan Razmi, 2010. "Export-led Growth, Real Exchange Rates and the Fallacy of Composition," Chapters,in: Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Growth, chapter 19 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Kappler, Marcus & Reisen, Helmut & Schularick, Moritz & Turkisch, Edouard, 2013. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Large Exchange Rate Appreciations," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 471-494.
    3. Luigi Bonatti & Andrea Fracasso, 2009. "The evolution of the Sino-American Co-dependency: modelling a regime switch in a growth setting," Department of Economics Working Papers 0905, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
    4. repec:aea:jeclit:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1311-45 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Pritha Dev & Blessing U. Mberu & Roland Pongou, 2016. "Ethnic Inequality: Theory and Evidence from Formal Education in Nigeria," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(4), pages 603-660.
    6. Smith, Constance E., 2011. "External balance adjustment: An intra-national and international comparison," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1195-1213, October.
    7. Dev, Pritha & Mberu, Blessing & Pongou, Roland, 2013. "Communitarianism, Oppositional Cultures, and Human Capital Contagion: Theory and Evidence from Formal versus Koranic Education," MPRA Paper 46234, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Apr 2013.
    8. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan, 2017. "Immigration in American Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1311-1345, December.
    9. Lin, Justin Yifu & Monga, Celestin, 2010. "The growth report and new structural economics," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5336, The World Bank.
    10. World Bank, 2011. "Turkey - Country Economic Memorandum (CEM) : Sustaining High Growth - The Role of Domestic savings : Synthesis Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12264, The World Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    identity; institutional persistence; networks; occupational choice; mobility;

    JEL classification:

    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L22 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Organization and Market Structure

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