Happily Ever After: Immigration, Natives’ Marriage, and Fertility

65 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2018 Last revised: 7 Mar 2019

See all articles by Michela Carlana

Michela Carlana

Harvard Kennedy School

Marco Tabellini

Harvard Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 5, 2019


In this paper, we study the effects of immigration on natives’ marriage, fertility, and family formation across US cities between 1910 and 1930. Instrumenting immigrants’ location decision by interacting national changes in migration flows across ethnic groups with pre-existing immigrants’ enclaves across US cities, we find that immigration raised marriage rates and the probability of having children for young native men and women. We show that these effects were driven by the large and positive impact of immigration on native men’s employment and occupational standing, which increased the supply of “marriageable men”. We explore alternative mechanisms - changes in sex ratios, natives’ cultural responses, and displacement effects of immigrants on female employment - and provide evidence that none of them can account for a quantitatively relevant fraction of our results.

JEL Classification: J12, J13, J61, N32

Suggested Citation

Carlana, Michela and Tabellini, Marco, Happily Ever After: Immigration, Natives’ Marriage, and Fertility (March 5, 2019). Harvard Business School BGIE Unit Working Paper No. 19-004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3220422 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3220422

Michela Carlana

Harvard Kennedy School ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Marco Tabellini (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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