The Seeds of Ideology: Historical Immigration and Political Preferences in the United States

138 Pages Posted: 22 May 2020 Last revised: 3 Feb 2023

See all articles by Paola Giuliano

Paola Giuliano

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Marco Tabellini

Harvard Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2023

Abstract

We study the long run effects of immigration on American political ideology. Exploiting cross-county variation in the presence of European immigrants between 1900 and 1930, we document that historical European immigration is associated with stronger preferences for redistribution and a more liberal ideology among Americans today. We show that this result is driven by immigrants with a longer exposure to social-welfare reforms in their countries of origin prior to emigration. Our evidence suggests that the vertical transmission of preferences within immigrant enclaves was complemented by horizontal socialization that promoted the spillover of ideology from immigrants to natives. This process was reinforced by immigrants' political incorporation in the Democratic voting bloc and by the election of legislators who were more likely to support pro-redistribution bills.

Keywords: Immigration, preferences for redistribution, political ideology, cultural transmission

JEL Classification: D64, D72, H2, J15, N32, Z1

Suggested Citation

Giuliano, Paola and Tabellini, Marco, The Seeds of Ideology: Historical Immigration and Political Preferences in the United States (January 2023). Harvard Business School BGIE Unit Working Paper No. 20-118, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3606506 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3606506

Paola Giuliano

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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

Marco Tabellini (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

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

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