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The effects of immigration restriction laws on immigrant segregation in the early twentieth century U.S

Dafeng Xu

Journal of Comparative Economics, 2020, vol. 48, issue 2, 422-447

Abstract: Several immigration restriction laws, passed in the background of anti-immigration populism in the early 1920s, put an end to the period of “open borders” in the U.S. In this paper, I use the linked county sample in the early twentieth century to examine how immigration restriction laws led to different trends in segregation across groups. Difference-in-difference estimations show that all immigrant groups followed similar trends in segregation before the passage of immigration laws; afterwards, segregation among immigrants from more restricted countries declined relative to segregation among immigrants from less restricted countries. I then construct linked census samples at the individual level, and study mechanisms behind de-segregation. I find two possible mechanisms: (a) limitations on new arrivals; (b) selection on return migration. Further analyses suggest that de-segregation might not benefit immigrants’ socioeconomic assimilation.

Keywords: Immigration restriction; Law; Immigrant segregation; Early twentieth century; U.S (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J1 N3 N9 R1 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jce.2019.10.004

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:48:y:2020:i:2:p:422-447