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Faith and Assimilation: Italian Immigrants in the US

Stefano Gagliarducci () and Marco Tabellini

No 15794, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: Ethnic religious organizations are often blamed for slowing down immigrants' assimilation in host societies. This paper offers the first systematic evidence on this topic by focusing on Italian Catholic churches in the US between 1890 and 1920, when four million Italians had moved to America, and anti-Catholic sentiments were widespread. Relying on newly collected data on the presence of Italian Catholic churches across counties over time, we implement a difference-in-differences design. We find that Italian churches reduced the social assimilation of Italian immigrants, lowering intermarriage, residential integration, and naturalization rates. We provide evidence that both stronger coordination within the Italian community and negative stereotyping among natives can explain these effects. Yet, Italian churches had ambiguous effects on immigrants' economic outcomes, and increased literacy and ability to speak English among Italian children.

Keywords: Assimilation; Immigration; religious organizations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J15 N31 Z12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-02
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cul, nep-his, nep-net, nep-soc and nep-ure
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