Institutional Discrimination and Assimilation: Evidence from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882

66 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2020

See all articles by Shuo Chen

Shuo Chen

Fudan University - Department of Economics

Bin Xie

Jinan University; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Abstract

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned Chinese immigration and institutionalized discrimination against Chinese in U.S. society. This study examines the impact of institutional discrimination on the assimilation of Chinese by exploiting the passage of the Act and the state-level variation in the intensity of discrimination, measured by the voting outcomes of the Act and the number of anti-Chinese incidents. Our difference-in-differences estimates show that discrimination substantially slowed the occupational assimilation of Chinese in the Exclusion Era (1882–1943) and that Chinese in the U.S. reacted to discrimination by investing in human capital, improving English skills, and increasingly adopting Americanized names. The triple difference estimates show that these effects are significantly stronger in states with higher support rates of the Act or greater numbers of anti-Chinese incidents. These findings are not driven by the selection in migration and fertility.

Keywords: the Chinese Exclusion Act, assimilation, human capital, name Americanization

JEL Classification: J15, N31, K37

Suggested Citation

Chen, Shuo and Xie, Bin, Institutional Discrimination and Assimilation: Evidence from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3687123 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3687123

Shuo Chen (Contact Author)

Fudan University - Department of Economics ( email )

600 GuoQuan Road
Yangpu District
Shanghai, 200433
China

Bin Xie

Jinan University ( email )

601 Huangpu Avenue, Tianhe District
Guangzhou, Guangdong 510632
China

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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