Historical Perspectives on the Economic Consequences of Immigration into the United States
80 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2000 Last revised: 18 Apr 2021
Date Written: December 1997
This paper highlights the distinctive features of the theoretical approach taken by scholars" who analyzed the impacts of the mass migration into the United States in the two decades" preceding World War I. Broadly speaking, this literature was couched in terms of the "aggregate" production function, productivity change in factor proportions. Attention was focused on the close interrelatedness among the many" diverse elements in the economy. A notable difference between the historical studies and the recent literature on the impacts" of immigration is the propensity of the current literature to concentrate only on the first-round" consequences. It is easy to show that these will be harmful to resident workers who face direct" competition. Economic historians writing about the earlier period of high immigration went" beyond the first-round effects. Taking a long-run perspective, they identified many aspects of" the mass immigration that were beneficial from the point of view of the resident population."
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