Immigrants and the Making of America


Sequeira S, Nunn N, Qian N. Immigrants and the Making of America. Review of Economic Studies. 2020; 87 (1) : 382-419.
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Railway Shapefiles (15 years from 1830-1921)33.08 MB

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We study the effects of European immigration to the United States during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920) on economic prosperity. Exploiting variation in the extent of immigration across counties arising from the interaction of fluctuations in aggregate immigrant flows and the gradual expansion of the railway network, we find that counties with more historical immigration have higher incomes, less poverty, less unemployment, higher rates of urbanization, and greater educational attainment today. The long-run effects appear to arise from the persistence of sizeable short-run benefits, including greater industrialization, increased agricultural productivity, and more innovation.

Last updated on 03/26/2020