A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration

  • Citation: Abramitzky, Ran, Leah Platt Boustan, and Katherine Ericksson. “A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration.” Journal of Political Economy 122, no. 3 (2014): 467–506.
    • Topics:
    • Business and Trade
    • Keywords:
    • Age of Mass Migration
    • skill level
    • employment
    • wages

During the Age of Mass Migration ð1850–1913Þ, the United States main- tained an open border, absorbing 30 million European immigrants. Prior cross-sectional work finds that immigrants initially held lower- paid occupations than natives but converged over time. In newly assem- bled panel data, we show that, in fact, the average immigrant did not face a substantial occupation-based earnings penalty upon first arrival and experienced occupational advancement at the same rate as natives. Cross-sectional patterns are driven by biases from declining arrival co- hort skill level and departures of negatively selected return migrants. We show that assimilation patterns vary substantially across sending coun- tries and persist in the second generation.

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