Migrants and the Making of America: The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Immigration During the Age of Mass Migration

51 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2017 Last revised: 19 Feb 2022

See all articles by Sandra Sequeira

Sandra Sequeira

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2017

Abstract

We study the effects of European immigration to the United States during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920) on economic prosperity today. We exploit 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 across the United States. We find that locations with more historical immigration today have higher incomes, less poverty, less unemployment, higher rates of urbanization, and greater educational attainment. The long-run effects appear to arise from the persistence of sizeable short-run benefits, including greater industrialization, increased agricultural productivity, and more innovation.

Suggested Citation

Sequeira, Sandra and Nunn, Nathan and Qian, Nancy, Migrants and the Making of America: The Short- and Long-Run Effects of Immigration During the Age of Mass Migration (March 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23289, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2946695

Sandra Sequeira (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Nathan Nunn

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Nancy Qian

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

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