The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization

39 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2013

See all articles by Costanza Biavaschi

Costanza Biavaschi

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)

Corrado Giulietti

Department of Economics

Zahra Siddique

University of Reading; IZA Institute of Labor Economics


We examine the impact of the Americanization of names on the labor market outcomes of migrants. We construct a novel longitudinal data set of naturalization records in which we track a complete sample of migrants who naturalize by 1930. We find that migrants who Americanized their names experienced larger occupational upgrading. Some, such as those who changed to very popular American names like John or William, obtained gains in occupation-based earnings of at least 14%. We show that these estimates are causal effects by using an index of linguistic complexity based on Scrabble points as an instrumental variable that predicts name Americanization. We conclude that the tradeoff between individual identity and labor market success was present since the early making of modern America.

Keywords: Americanization, names, assimilation, migration

JEL Classification: J61, J62, Z1, N32

Suggested Citation

Biavaschi, Costanza and Giulietti, Corrado and Siddique, Zahra, The Economic Payoff of Name Americanization. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7725. Available at SSRN:

Costanza Biavaschi (Contact Author)

Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) ( email )

Trondheim NO-7491

Corrado Giulietti

Department of Economics ( email )

University Rd.
Southampton SO17 1BJ, Hampshire SO17 1LP
United Kingdom

Zahra Siddique

University of Reading ( email )

Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

Schaumburg Lippe Str. 5-9
Bonn, 53113


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