Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses

Kevin Lewis

September 12, 2009

Immigration and the American industrial revolution from 1880 to 1920

Charles Hirschman & Elizabeth Mogford
Social Science Research, December 2009, Pages 897-920

In this study, we measure the contribution of immigrants and their descendents to the growth and industrial transformation of the American workforce in the age of mass immigration from 1880 to 1920. The size and selectivity of the immigrant community, as well as their disproportionate residence in large cities, meant they were the mainstay of the American industrial workforce. Immigrants and their children comprised over half of manufacturing workers in 1920, and if the third generation (the grandchildren of immigrants) are included, then more than two-thirds of workers in the manufacturing sector were of recent immigrant stock. Although higher wages and better working conditions might have encouraged more long-resident native-born workers to the industrial economy, the scale and pace of the American industrial revolution might well have slowed. The closing of the door to mass immigration in the 1920s did lead to increased recruitment of native born workers, particularly from the South, to northern industrial cities in the middle decades of the 20th century.


Immigration and the Recent Violent Crime Drop in the United States: A Pooled, Cross-Sectional Time-Series Analysis of Metropolitan Areas

Jacob Stowell, Steven Messner, Kelly McGeever & Lawrence Raffalovich
Criminology, August 2009, Pages 889-928

A good deal of research in recent years has revisited the relationship between immigration and violent crime. Various scholars have suggested that, contrary to the claims of the classic Chicago School, large immigrant populations might be associated with lower rather than higher rates of criminal violence. A limitation of the research in this area is that it has been based largely on cross-sectional analyses for a restricted range of geographic areas. Using time-series techniques and annual data for metropolitan areas over the 1994-2004 period, we assess the impact of changes in immigration on changes in violent crime rates. The findings of multivariate analyses indicate that violent crime rates tended to decrease as metropolitan areas experienced gains in their concentration of immigrants. This inverse relationship is especially robust for the offense of robbery. Overall, our results support the hypothesis that the broad reductions in violent crime during recent years are partially attributable to increases in immigration.


Europe's tired, poor, huddled masses: Self-selection and economic outcomes in the age of mass migration

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan & Katherine Eriksson
UCLA Working Paper, July 2009

Between 1850 and 1913, the United States absorbed nearly 30 million immigrants from Europe. This paper estimates the economic return to migrating from Northern Europe to the United States and the selection of the migrant flow. We construct a novel data set of Norway-to-US migrants and their brothers. Because brothers share a family environment, the earnings of brothers who remained in Norway provide our best estimate for what migrants' earnings would have been had they not migrated. A naive comparison of all Norwegian-born men residing in Norway and the US produces returns to migration of 93 percent for those leaving rural areas and 42 percent for those leaving urban areas. Larger within-brother estimates of the returns to migration from urban areas suggest a process of negative selection: households with poorer economic prospects in Norway are more likely to send migrants to the US. An instrumental variables procedure, which uses birth order as an instrument for migration, provides evidence of such negative selection even within households.


Deceit, diversity, or mobilization?: Intra-ethnic diversity and changing patterns in Florida's Hispanic Vote

Benjamin Bishin & Casey Klofstad
Social Science Journal, September 2009, Pages 571-583

What explains President Bush's increased vote in the State of Florida in the 2004 election? A common perception is that implementation of electronic voting machines and a surge in GOP registration increased Bush's vote margins relative to the 2000 election. In this paper we offer an alternative explanation: massive Puerto Rican immigration combined with successful Republican mobilization of this group explains about 14% of the increase in Bush's margin of victory — approximately 50,000 votes. Scholars' failure to account for intra-ethnic diversity, by employing a "panethnic" approach that treats Latinos as having identical political preferences, leads scholars to overlook the important role of Hispanic subconstituencies in the 2004 election.


Female Work and Fertility in the United States: Effects of Low-Skilled Immigrant Labor

Heinrich Hock & Delia Furtado
Florida State University Working Paper, June 2009

This paper examines the effects of low-skilled immigration on the work and fertility decisions of high-skilled women born in the United States. The evidence we present indicates that low-skilled immigration to large metropolitan areas between 1980 and 2000 lowered the cost of market-based household services. Using a novel estimation technique to analyze joint decision making, we find that college-educated native females responded, on average, by increasing fertility and reducing short-run labor force participation. These changes were accompanied by a weakening of the negative correlation between work and fertility, as well as an increase in the proportion of women who both bore children and participated in the labor force. Taken in combination, our estimates imply that the continuing influx of low-skilled immigrants substantially reduced the work-fertility tradeoff facing educated urban American women.


Race and the Response of State Legislatures to Unauthorized Immigrants

Jorge Chavez & Doris Marie Provine
ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, May 2009, Pages 78-92

Increasingly, state legislatures are enacting laws to regulate immigrant populations. What accounts for these responses to foreign-born residents? To explain legislative activity at the state level, the authors examine a variety of factors, including the size and growth of foreign-born and Hispanic local populations, economic well-being, crime rates, and conservative or liberal political ideology in state government and among the citizenry. The authors find that economic indicators, crime rates, and demographic changes have little explanatory value for legislation aimed at restrictions on immigrant populations. Rather, conservative citizen ideology appears to drive immigrant-related restrictionist state legislation. Meanwhile, proimmigrant laws are associated with larger Hispanic concentrations, growing foreign-born populations, and more liberal citizen and governmental orientations. These findings suggest that ideological framing is the most consistently important factor determining legislative responses to newcomers. These findings are in line with the relatively scarce empirical literature on legislative tendencies associated with vulnerable populations.


Political Socialization and Reactions to Immigration-Related Diversity in Rural America

James Gimpel & Celeste Lay
Rural Sociology, June 2008, Pages 180-204

We explore the roots of tolerance for immigration-related diversity from a political socialization perspective. Among rural adolescent respondents, we find that attitudes toward immigrants are surprisingly variable along a number of important dimensions: anticipated socioeconomic status, family longevity in the community, and employment in agriculture. The extent to which an adolescent's family is anchored in the community proves to be an important determinant of diversity attitudes. Tolerance for diversity is also contextually conditioned by the percentage of immigrants settled in a neighborhood, and the percentage of the local population employed in farming. Interestingly, lower income youth are more welcoming of immigration than the affluent, particularly when they live near them. Without quite labeling these rural adolescent populations racially ''progressive,'' the youth we encountered mostly expressed the norms of tolerance and civility essential for avoiding unpleasant intergroup conflict.


Mental illness, nativity, gender and labor supply

Victoria Ojeda, Richard Frank, Thomas McGuire & Todd Gilmer
Health Economics, forthcoming

We analyzed the impacts of nativity and mental health (MH) on work by gender for non-elderly adults using the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. We employed two indicators of MH — the K6 scale of Mental Illness (MI) and an indicator for symptoms of Mania or Delusions (M/D). Instrumental variable (IV) models used measures of social support as instruments for MI. Unadjusted work rates were higher for immigrants (vs US-born adults). Regressions show that MI is associated with lower rates of work among US-born males but not immigrant males and females; M/D is associated lower rates of work among US-born males and females, and among immigrant males. Results did not change using IV models for MI. Most persons with MI work, yet symptom severity reduces labor supply among natives especially. Immigrants' labor supply is less affected by MI.


The Dynamics of Public Opinion on Ethnic Profiling After 9/11: Results From a Survey Experiment

Deborah Schildkraut American
Behavioral Scientist, September 2009, Pages 61-79

This study examines support for ethnic profiling in the United States as a counterterrorism tactic. It first compares support for counterterrorism profiling with support for profiling Black motorists. Then, it investigates whether the status of the profilee as a U.S. citizen of Arab or Middle Eastern appearance or as an immigrant alters either support for profiling or the determinants of that support. In both sets of analyses, the study investigates how competing ideas about the meaning of American identity shape opinions about profiling. Particular attention is paid to liberalism's emphasis on the rights of citizenship and ethnoculturalism's emphasis on the ascriptive boundaries of American identity. The results show that support for counterterrorism profiling is higher than support for profiling Black motorists, that people are more supportive of profiling immigrants than they are of profiling U.S. citizens, and that how people define what it means to be American is a powerful predictor of such support. The perspective promoted by the increasing number of radical activists on issues related to immigration — that being American means being a White European Christian — is the most powerful predictor of support for profiling. A liberal understanding of being American can offset some, but not all, of that support. The implications of these findings for future opinions and activism on post-9/11 issues are discussed.


An Outflow of Talent: Nativism and the US Reverse Brain Drain

Vivek Wadhwa
Harvard International Review, Spring 2009, Pages 76-80

As the world hurtles headlong into the deepest global recession since the Great Depression, the controversial cultural and economic tensions that have always existed around the sensitive topics of immigration and immigration policy are again coming to the surface in the United States. A land of immigrants, religious outcasts, and refugees fleeing wars, poverty, starvation, and oppression abroad, the United States has long been viewed as the most welcoming country in the world. Immigrants always believed that their children would have a chance at a more prosperous life than the one their parents led — the ultimate American Dream. Today the political clouds of nativism are swirling in Washington, DC. President Obama and the US Congress, reacting to the ongoing political backlash against financial institutions, have passed a bill restricting US financial companies from hiring foreign nationals on H-1B visas. These visas are the most common type of employment permits for foreigners and have traditionally been a pathway to full citizenship. Before the ink on the bill had dried, the country's largest financial institution, Bank of America, announced it would rescind job offers from foreign MBA students. The nativist logic is clear: with US unemployment heading towards 10 percent and perhaps beyond, nativists question why US companies hire foreigners to perform jobs that out-of-work Americans could perform. I personally have experienced the building xenophobia. Articles that I have published explaining the economic benefits of open doors immigration policies have created enormous backlash. I have received overtly threatening emails and hundreds of unpleasant messages telling me, in no uncertain terms, that skilled immigrants are no longer welcome here. I have received arguments that are familiar derivations of the nativist logic. Xenophobes claim that immigrants on H-1B visas are paid less than comparable American workers and depress wages. Others argue that immigrants crowd out Americans in similar positions, causing US-born students to lose interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math ("STEM") fields and to stop seeking education and employment in those critical areas. They add that immigrants filing for patents are displacing Americans who might have filed for patents but could not get good science-related jobs. The xenophobic tide could not have come at a more inopportune time. Even before the nativist sentiment emerged, growing numbers of talented immigrants had been abandoning lives in the United States to return to their homelands. They returned due to growing perceptions that brighter economic futures and greater chances for career and professional advancement lay abroad. With America no longer having the huge economic advantage it once had, other factors are coming more into play, such as the inconvenience of current restrictive visa policies and the anxiety associated with living far from friends and family in an unfamiliar culture. The United States is experiencing a brain drain for the first time in its history, yet its leaders do not appear to be aware of this. The ramifications of this brain drain are critical and will be long-lasting.


'Educating Kids' Versus 'Coddling Criminals': Framing the Debate over In-State Tuition for Undocumented Students in Kansas

Gary Reich & Alvar Ayala Mendoza
State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Summer 2008, Pages 166-197

As more children of undocumented workers graduate from U.S. high schools, many states are considering laws to grant these students in-state tuition status. Kansas, which adopted such a law in 2004, was an unlikely venue for this kind of policy, considering the negative attitudes toward illegal immigrants among the state's residents as well as its relatively small share of Hispanic residents. We argue that the passage of Kansas's in-state tuition bill occurred in large measure due to the skill of its proponents in framing the issue as one of access to public education. We use a mix of qualitative and quantitative data to show how proponents of the in-state tuition bill were able to direct attention toward public education — an issue more electorally palatable to legislators and their constituents — and redirect attention away from immigration policy. The success of the bill in Kansas has some applicability for similar legislation under consideration in other states; however, as immigration policy has become more politically charged, proponents of in-state tuition for undocumented students will face renewed challenges in the legislative arena, as Kansas also demonstrates.


Contextual effects on health care access among immigrants: Lessons from three ethnic communities in Hawaii

Jin Young Choi
Social Science & Medicine, forthcoming

Immigrant health care is the product of the dynamic interaction between societal factors and the individual's socio-economic and cultural characteristics. Our knowledge about immigrant health care, however, has been limited to individual characteristics, without paying attention to the social context in which immigrants reside. This paper explores the effects of social contexts on access to health care among recent immigrants. As a natural experiment, it compares health care experiences of three immigrant groups in Hawaii — Filipinos, Koreans, and Marshallese — who are situated in different social contexts including immigrant health policy, ethnic community, and individual networks. Through household surveys conducted between October 2005 and January 2006, information of 378 recent immigrant adults on health care access, health insurance status, socio-demographic characteristics, linguistic and cultural factors, health status, ethnic community social capital, and social networks was obtained. The results of analyses show that Marshallese respondents have better access to health care than the other two groups, in spite of their lowest socioeconomic status. The high insurance rate of the Marshallese, mainly associated with a state health policy that provides health insurance assistance for the Marshallese, is the major contributor of their greater health care access. While Filipino immigrants do not benefit from state insurance assistance, high levels of health care resources and social capital within the Filipino community enable them to have significantly better health care access than Koreans, who have higher income and educational attainment. Interestingly, the advanced family/kinship networks are associated with better levels of immigrant health care access, while the increase of co-ethnic friend networks is related to lower access to health care. This study implies that restoration of immigrants' eligibility for public health insurance assistance, development of health care resources and social capital within ethnic communities, and mobilization of immigrant networks would be effective starting points to improve health care access among immigrants.

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