Exit, Voice, and Political Change: Evidence from Swedish Mass Migration to the United States

69 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2016

See all articles by Mounir Karadja

Mounir Karadja

Uppsala University

Erik Prawitz

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)

Date Written: August 22, 2016


During the Age of Mass Migration, 30 million Europeans emigrated to the United States. We study the long-term political effects of this large-scale migration episode on origin communities using detailed historical data from Sweden, a major sending country in the period. To instrument for emigration cumulated over several decades, we exploit severe local frost shocks that sparked an initial wave of emigration, interacted with within-country travel costs. Because Swedish emigration was highly path dependent, the initial shocks strongly predict total emigration over 50 years. Our estimates show that emigration substantially increased membership in local labor organizations, the strongest political opposition groups at the time. Furthermore, emigration caused greater strike participation, and mobilized voter turnout and support for left-wing parties in national elections. We interpret these findings as an increase in citizens' bargaining power and demand for political change. Emigration also had effects on actual political change. Municipalities with more emigration exhibit higher welfare expenditures per capita, both before and after the introduction of democracy. In addition, local governments become more likely to adopt inclusive political institutions. Together, our findings indicate that large-scale emigration can achieve significant and long-lasting effects on the political equilibrium in origin communities.

Keywords: Mass migration, emigration, institutions, political change, labor movement, collective action

JEL Classification: D72, J61, P16

Suggested Citation

Karadja, Mounir and Prawitz, Erik, Exit, Voice, and Political Change: Evidence from Swedish Mass Migration to the United States (August 22, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2862368 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2862368

Mounir Karadja (Contact Author)

Uppsala University ( email )

Box 513
Uppsala, 751 20

Erik Prawitz

Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) ( email )

Box 55665
Grevgatan 34, 2nd floor
Stockholm, SE-102 15

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/erikprawitz/

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