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von Berlepsch, Viola
von Berlepsch, Viola
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53rd Congress of the European Regional Science Association: "Regional Integration: Europe, the Mediterranean and the World Economy", 27-31 August 2013, Palermo, Italy
Does the nationality of migrants arriving in any particular territory make a difference for long-term economic development? Have Irish, German or Italian settlers arriving in the US at the turn of the 20th century left an institutional trace which determines economic development differences to this day? This paper explores whether the distinct geographical settlement patterns of European migrants according to national origin affected economic development across US counties. It uses historical microdata ? provided in the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) database ? of the US censuses which coincided with the greatest waves of European migration (1880, 1910) in order to uncover the settlement patterns of migrants of different national origins across the more than 3,000 US counties. We look at the national origin of migrants living in any given US county and at their percentage in the local population of the county at the turn of the 19th century so as to assess whether a greater presence of migrants from specific national origins has influenced and/or continues to influence development patterns across US counties to this day. The analysis also controls for a number of factors which would have determined both the attractiveness of different US counties at the time of migration, as well as current levels of development, including income per capita, population, the unemployment rate, the educational attainment of the population, the percentage of blacks, female labour participation, and employment in agriculture as independent variables. The results indicate that while there is a strong and positive correlation between where migrants settled and current levels of development, this correlation seems to be completely independent of the national origin of migrants. Specific migrant origins ? with the only exception of the English, precisely those with the least problems of adaptation to the new environment ? do not make a difference for long-term economic development whatsoever. This holds for the first and second wave of migration. Hence being settled by Germans, Irish, Scandinavians, Poles, or Italians has always been favourable for subsequent economic development. The main difference is simply between counties which received a large influx of migrants, which tend to be significantly richer today, and those that did not.
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