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

154 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020 Last revised: 15 Mar 2021

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: May 2020

Abstract

We study the long run effects of immigration on US political ideology. We establish a new result: historical European immigration is associated with stronger preferences for redistribution and a more liberal ideology among Americans today. We hypothesize that European immigrants moving to the US in the early twentieth century brought with them their preferences for redistribution, with long-lasting effects on political attitudes of US-born individuals. After documenting that immigrants' economic characteristics and other standard economic forces cannot, alone, explain our results, we provide evidence that our findings are driven by immigrants with a longer exposure to social-welfare reforms in their countries of origin. Consistent with a process of horizontal transmission from immigrants to natives, results are stronger where historical inter-group contact was more frequent, and are not due to transmission within ancestry groups. Immigration left its footprint on American political ideology starting with the New Deal, and persisted since then.

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 (May 2020). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP14784, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3612853

Paola Giuliano (Contact Author)

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

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Marco Tabellini

Harvard Business School ( email )

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