Identity and Mobility: Historical Fractionalization, Parochial Institutions, and Occupational Choice in the American Midwest
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.
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|Date of revision:||Dec 2010|
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