The Making of Modern America: Migratory Flows in the Age of Mass Migration

64 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2013

See all articles by Oriana Bandiera

Oriana Bandiera

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Imran Rasul

University College London - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Martina Viarengo

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Women and Public Policy Program

Date Written: December 2012

Abstract

We provide new estimates of migrant flows into and out of America during the Age of Mass Migration at the turn of the twentieth century. Our analysis is based on a novel data set of administrative records covering the universe of 24 million migrants who entered Ellis Island, New York between 1892 and 1924. We use these records to measure inflows into New York, and then scale-up these figures to estimate migrant inflows into America as a whole.

Combining these flow estimates with census data on the stock of foreign-born in America in 1900, 1910 and 1920, we conduct a demographic accounting exercise to estimate out-migration rates in aggregate and for each nationality-age-gender cohort. This exercise overturns common wisdom on two fronts. First, we estimate flows into the US to be 20% and 170% higher than stated in official statistics for the 1900-10 and 1910-20 decades, respectively. Second, once mortality is accounted for, we estimate out-migration rates from the US to be around .6 for the 1900-10 decade and around .75 for the 1910-20. These figures are over twice as high as official estimates for each decade. That migration was effectively a two-way flow between the US and the sending countries has major implications for understanding the potential selection of immigrants that chose to permanently reside in the US, their impact on Americans in labor markets, and institutional change in America and sending countries.

Keywords: Ellis Island, migration accounting, migratory inflows and outflows

JEL Classification: F22, N31, N32, O15

Suggested Citation

Bandiera, Oriana and Rasul, Imran and Viarengo, Martina, The Making of Modern America: Migratory Flows in the Age of Mass Migration (December 2012). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP9248. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2210218

Oriana Bandiera (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 20 7955 7519 (Phone)
+44 20 7055 6951 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Imran Rasul

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
+44 20 7679 5853 (Phone)
+44 20 7916 2775 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Martina Viarengo

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Women and Public Policy Program ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-4786 (Phone)

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