The impact of immigration on US economic development has become a controversial issue in recent policy debates. This column, arising from a study linking Federal Census data with patent records, examines the historical role of immigrant inventors in the process of US technological innovation. Immigrant inventors appear to have been of central importance to American innovation during the 19th and 20th centuries, both through their own inventive activity and through their influence on domestic inventors.
Ufuk Akcigit, John Grigsby, Tom Nicholas, 27 March 2017
Victor Gay, Daniel Hicks, Estefania Santacreu-Vasut, 10 September 2016
Evidence suggests that many forms of gender inequality are higher in countries where the language distinguishes gender. But these patterns could arise spuriously, as languages and other cultural institutions have co-evolved throughout history. This column uses an epidemiological approach to isolate language from other cultural forces and provide direct evidence on whether language matters. The findings suggest how gender roles have been shaped, how they are perpetuated, and, ultimately, how they can be changed.
Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, 04 July 2016
Attitudes toward immigration policy are driven by fears about cultural diversity, not just individual economic circumstances. This column looks back at the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913), when 30 million migrants moved from Europe to the US, to examine whether such fears are justified. US Census data from 1920 reveals that recent immigrants gave their children more foreign names than long-standing immigrants, which suggests that cultural assimilation did take place over time. This assimilation had economic benefits for children, both in school and in the labour market.
Laurent Gobillon, Matthieu Solignac, 21 January 2016
Assimilation of migrants can be measured in various ways, one such measure being their access to the homeownership market. This column argues that the evolution of homeownership rates of immigrants is a complex process, with important selection effects. In France, the homeownership rate among northern African immigrants lags behind not only that of natives, but also southern European immigrants. A possible reason is discrimination against northern African immigrants not only on the labour market, but also on the credit and housing markets.
Laurent Gobillon, Matthieu Solignac, 06 December 2015
We investigate the difference in homeownership rates between natives and first-generation immigrants in France, and how this difference evolves over the 1975-1999 period, by using a large longitudinal dataset. We find that the homeownership gap is large and has increased. Entries into the territory have a large negative effect on the evolution of homeownership rates for immigrants. Although entrants have on average better education than people staying in the territory for the entire period (i.e. stayers), they are younger and thus at an earlier stage in the wealth accumulation process. They are also located in large cities, where the homeownership rate is lower, and the returns to their characteristics are lower than those for stayers.
William Kerr, Martin Mandorff, 31 October 2015
Immigrants are more likely to concentrate around specific industries and entrepreneurship. Market integration and discrimination only go a certain way towards explaining this phenomenon. This column explores how social interactions affect immigrants’ employment decisions in the US. Fifteen ethnic groups are found to cluster around certain industries at a rate 10 times greater than the native population. Immigrants are argued to be drawn to the same industries as their countrymen due to the ease of diffusing skills through social interactions in the group, along with higher earnings due to specialisation.
Gianmarco Ottaviano, Giovanni Peri, Greg Wright, 26 October 2010
Do immigrants take American jobs? Or does increased efficiency in firms that hire immigrants or practice offshoring generate new jobs for US natives? The authors of CEPR Discussion Paper 8078 develop and test a model which measures both the direct impact of offshoring and hiring immigrants on the employment share of US natives and the indirect gains to US natives from the "cost-savings" effect.