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Marriott Marquis, Marina Ballroom D
American Economic Association
The Effect of Immigrants on Economic and Political Outcomes in the United States
Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (PDT)
- Chair: Paola Giuliano, University of California-Los Angeles
Changing In-Group Boundaries: The Role of New Immigrant Waves in the United States
AbstractHow do boundaries of in-groups and out-groups in a society evolve? Does the appearance of a new out-group foster or hinder the incorporation of previously excluded groups? We present a conceptual framework where individuals classify others into in- or out-groups depending on their perceived distance. Such perceived distance is context dependent, and falls with the arrival of a socially more distant group. We test the predictions of the model, and study how Mexican immigration to the US between 1970 and 2010 affected native whites' attitudes towards African Americans. We combine nationally representative survey data with a difference-in-differences design, and predict changes in the Mexican share across states relying on the historical distribution of ethnic enclaves. Consistent with the model, we find that Mexican immigrants reduce whites' prejudice against blacks, and shift racial policy preferences in a more liberal direction. As predicted by the model, these effects: i) are larger for whites who perceive a higher distance between blacks and Hispanics; ii) spill over onto other immigrant groups, as nativity (vs race) becomes a more salient feature of group identification; and iii) are not found when looking at immigration of relatively closer groups, such as Canadians and Europeans. Our findings have broader implications for inter-group relations in racially and ethnically diverse societies.
Leadership in Social Networks: Evidence from the Forty-Eighters in the Civil War
AbstractA growing theoretical literature emphasizes that prominent individuals (‘leaders’) can be instrumental in changing behaviors and beliefs inside social networks, and consequently play an important role in shaping the path of history. We test this assertion in the context of the U.S. Civil War. Our analysis is organized around the natural experiment of the “Forty-Eighter” anti-slavery campaigners’ settlement in the U.S., and their impact on the mobilization of Union Army volunteers. Towns where Forty-Eighters settled in the 1850s increased their enlistments by ten men per hundred adult males over the course of the war, or roughly eighty percent. The Forty-Eighters’ influence worked at least in part through the local press and local social clubs. In the army, Forty-Eighter officers reduced their companies’ desertion rate. In the long run, towns where Forty-Eighters settled were more likely to form a local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Immigration, Innovation and Growth
AbstractBuilding upon endogenous growth theory, we show a causal impact of immigration on innovation and dynamism in US counties. In order to identify the causal impact of immigration, we use 130 years of detailed data on migrations from foreign countries to US counties to isolate quasi-random variation in the ancestry composition of US counties that results purely from the interaction of two forces: (i) changes over time in the relative attractiveness of different destinations within the US to the average migrant arriving at the time and (ii) the staggered timing of arrival of migrants from different origin countries. We then use this plausibly exogenous variation in ancestry composition to predict the total number of migrants flowing into each US county in recent decades. We show four main results. First, immigration has a positive impact on innovation, measured by patenting of local firms. Second, immigration has a positive impact on measures of local dynamism, as endogenous growth theory predicts. Third, the positive impact of immigration on innovation percolates over space, but spatial spillovers quickly die with distance. Fourth, the impact of immigration on innovation is stronger for more educated migrants.
University of California-Davis
University of California-Los Angeles
- J6 - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers