How Labor Migrants Fare pp 37-53
How much did immigrant “quality” decline in late nineteenth century America?
Early twentieth century observers argued that recent American immigrants were inferior, and in particular less skilled, than the old. I estimate wage equations for 1909 allowing for different effects by nationality and for different characteristics on arrival. I then apply the estimated wage differentials to the immigrant composition to measure the effect of changing composition on immigrant earnings. Finally I ask how immigrant earning power changed relative to that of native Americans. I conclude that immigrant “quality” in terms of earnings did decline due to shifting composition but these effects are very small compared with those reported in studies of the post-second World War period.
Key wordsUnited States immigration history
JEL classificationJ15 J31 J61 N11
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Blau FD (1980) Immigration and Labor Earnings in Early Twentieth Century America. Research in Population Economics 2:21–41Google Scholar
- Borjas GJ (1992) National Origin and the Skills of Immigrants in the Postwar Period. In: Borjas, GJ, Freeman, RB (eds) Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 17–24Google Scholar
- Borjas GJ (1994) The Economics of Immigration. Journal of Economic Literature 32:1667–1717Google Scholar
- Chiswick BR (1977) Sons of Immigrants: Are they at an Earnings Disadvantage? American Economic Review 67:376–380Google Scholar
- Commons JR (1920) Races and Immigrants (2nd edn, reprinted 1967). Augustus Kelly, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Grant M (1923) The Passing of the Great Race, 4th edn. Charles Scribner, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Hourwich I (1922) Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States, 2nd edn. Huebsch, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Jenks JW, Lauck WJ (1926) The Immigration Problem, 6th edn. Huebsch, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Lalonde RJ, Topel RH (1992) The Assimilation of Immigrants in the U. S. Labor Market. In: Borjas JG, Freeman RB (eds) Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 67–92Google Scholar
- United States Immigration Commission (1911) Reports, 61st Congress, 3rd Session, Washington D. C. , Government Printing OfficeGoogle Scholar