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The Effect of Immigration on Local Labor Markets: Lessons from the 1920s Border Closure

Ran Abramitzky, Philipp Ager, Leah Boustan, Elior Cohen and Casper Hansen

No RWP 21-09, Research Working Paper from Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Abstract: In the 1920s, the United States substantially reduced immigration by imposing country-specific entry quotas. We compare local labor markets differentially exposed to the quotas due to variation in the national origin mix of their immigrant populations. U.S.-born workers in areas losing immigrants did not gain in income score relative to workers in less exposed areas. Instead, in urban areas, European immigrants were replaced with internal migrants and immigrants from Mexico and Canada. By contrast, farmers shifted toward capital-intensive agriculture, and the immigrant-intensive mining industry contracted. These differences highlight the uneven effects of the quota system at the local level.

Keywords: Immigration; Immigrants; Labor (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J61 N31 N32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 54
Date: 2021-09-30
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his, nep-int and nep-ure
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DOI: 10.18651/RWP2021-09

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