Resident Impacts of Immigration: Perspectives from Americaâ€™s Age of Mass Migration
Susan B. Carter
Richard C. Sutch
Elementary economic models are often used to suggest that immigration depresses the wages of native-born workers. These models assume that when immigrants enter a labour market, all other features of that market remain unchanged. Such an assumption is almost never valid. Here we explore the economic impacts of immigrants during Americaâ€™s Age of Mass Migration a century ago. This was a period of dynamic structural change that witnessed the appearance of new industries, adoption of new technologies, discovery of new mineral resources, the rise of big business, and the geographic concentration of industries. We show that immigrants â€“ and residents â€“ selected destinations where labour demand and wages were rising. Thus, native workers experienced wage increases in the presence of heavy immigration. Models that abstract from the special characteristics of labour markets that attract immigrants misrepresent their economic impact.
Immigration, Internal migration, Economic history of immigration, Counterfactual analysis
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