Kevin Lewis

April 26, 2019

The Cream of the Crop? Geography, Networks, and Irish Migrant Selection in the Age of Mass Migration
Dylan Shane Connor
Journal of Economic History, March 2019, Pages 139-175

With more than 30 million people moving to North America during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913), governments feared that Europe was losing its most talented workers. Using new data from Ireland in the early twentieth century, I provide evidence to the contrary, showing that the sons of farmers and illiterate men were more likely to emigrate than their literate and skilled counterparts. Emigration rates were highest in poorer farming communities with stronger migrant networks. I constructed these data using new name-based techniques to follow people over time and to measure chain migration from origin communities to the United States.

Tuning In, Not Turning Out: Evaluating the Impact of Ethnic Television on Political Participation
Yamil Ricardo Velez & Benjamin Newman
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Despite the importance of ethnic television within immigrant communities, its effects on political participation are unclear. On the one hand, ethnic media can mobilize and inform voters. On the other hand, it can serve as a source of diversion and reduce the desire to participate. To evaluate these competing possibilities, we implement a geographic regression discontinuity (GRD) approach involving Federal Communication Commission reception boundaries for Spanish‐language television stations in two states. Additionally, we replicate and unpack our GRD analyses using three nationally representative samples of Latinos. Across multiple studies, we find that access to Spanish‐language television is associated with decreases in turnout, ethnic civic participation, and political knowledge. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings on the ethnic politics, political communication, and social capital literatures.

The effects of cash assistance on refugee outcomes
Melissa LoPalo
Journal of Public Economics, February 2019, Pages 27-52

The United States receives tens of thousands of refugees per year, many of whom arrive with few resources. The federal refugee resettlement program aims to rapidly move refugees into employment and self-sufficiency. This causes refugees to undergo a search and matching process upon arrival that may be affected by cash assistance generosity. This paper exploits variation in cash benefit levels for welfare programs available to refugees after resettlement to identify the effects of welfare generosity on long-term labor market outcomes. I find that an additional $100 in TANF maximum monthly benefits is associated with a 5-8% increase in wages, but no significant change in the probability of employment. The effects are the largest among the highly educated.

The Generation 2.5 Curse? Comparing Educational Outcomes for Children of Immigrant Intermarriages in the United States
Cheyenne Blackford & Hisham Foad
San Diego State University Working Paper, February 2019

Is having one native-born parent an advantage for the child of an immigrant? Much of the classical literature on immigrant assimilation would suggest that children with one native-born and one foreign-born parent (generation 2.5) should fare better than those whose parents are both foreign-born (generation 2.0). Generation 2.5 individuals should have greater access to native networks, face less discrimination, and better bilcultural awareness. Despite these seeming advantages, recent studies suggest the opposite, with generation 2.5 having worse educational outcomes than their generation 2.0 counterparts. In this paper, we utilize propensity score matching to evaluate differences in educational outcomes between these two groups. We estimate that on average, generation 2.5 have nearly half a year less education than their generation 2.0 counterparts despite having better-educated parents on average. A number of explanations for this are explored, with a higher degree of bilingualism for generation 2.0, foreign-born parents investing more in children's education, and access to highly skilled immigrant networks being the most promising explanations.

Immigrants' Earnings Growth and Return Migration from the U.S.: Examining their Determinants using Linked Survey and Administrative Data
Randall Akee & Maggie Jones
NBER Working Paper, March 2019

Using a novel panel data set of recent immigrants to the U.S. (2005-2007) from individual-level linked U.S. Census Bureau survey data and Internal Revenue Service administrative records, we identify the determinants of return migration and earnings assimilation. We show that by 10 years after arrival almost 40 percent have return migrated. We show, for the first time, that return migrants experience downward earnings mobility over two to three years prior to their return migration. This finding suggests that economic shocks are closely related to emigration decisions. As a result, standard calculations of immigrants earnings growth may be understated.

Distributing the Green (Cards): Permanent residency and personal income taxes after the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986
Elizabeth Cascio & Ethan Lewis
Journal of Public Economics, April 2019, Pages 135-150

We explore how permanent residency affects personal income tax participation and net personal income tax payments using variation from the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), which authorized the largest U.S. amnesty to date. We exploit the timing and geographic unevenness of IRCA's legalization programs alongside newly digitized data on personal income taxes in California, home to the majority of applicants. Green Cards induced the previously unauthorized to file state income tax returns at rates comparable to other California residents. While the new returns generated little additional revenue through the end of the 1990s, they did raise the incomes of families with children through new claims of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

The Citizenship Advantage: Immigrant Socioeconomic Attainment in the Age of Mass Migration
Peter Catron
American Journal of Sociology, January 2019, Pages 999-1042

Scholars who study immigrant economic progress often point to the success of Southern and Eastern Europeans who entered the United States in the early 20th century and draw inferences about whether today’s immigrants will follow a similar trajectory. However, little is known about the mechanisms that allowed for European upward advancement. This article begins to fill this gap by analyzing how naturalization policies influenced the economic success of immigrants across generations. Specifically, the author creates new panel data sets that follow immigrants and their children across complete-count U.S. censuses to understand the economic consequences of citizenship attainment. The author finds that naturalization raised occupational attainment for the first generation that then allowed children to have greater educational attainment and labor market success. He argues that economic progress was conditioned by political statuses for European-origin groups during the first half of the 20th century.

How Do Immigrants Respond to Discrimination? The Case of Germans in the US During World War I
Vasiliki Fouka
American Political Science Review, May 2019, Pages 405-422

I study the effect of taste-based discrimination on the assimilation decisions of immigrant minorities. Do discriminated minority groups increase their assimilation efforts in order to avoid discrimination and public harassment or do they become alienated and retreat in their own communities? I exploit an exogenous shock to native attitudes, anti-Germanism in the United States during World War I, to empirically identify the reactions of German immigrants to increased native hostility. I use two measures of assimilation efforts: naming patterns and petitions for naturalization. In the face of increased discrimination, Germans increase their assimilation investments by Americanizing their own and their children’s names and filing more petitions for US citizenship. These responses are stronger in states that registered higher levels of anti-German hostility, as measured by voting patterns and incidents of violence against Germans.

The Effects of Minimum Wages on Low‐Skilled Immigrants’ Wages, Employment, and Poverty
Brandyn Churchill & Joseph Sabia
Industrial Relations, April 2019, Pages 275-314

Raising the minimum wage has been advanced as complementary policy to comprehensive immigration reform to improve low‐skilled immigrants’ economic well‐being. While adverse labor demand effects could undermine this goal, existing studies do not detect evidence of negative employment effects. We re‐investigate this question using data from the 1994 to 2016 Current Population Survey and conclude that minimum wage increases reduced employment of less‐educated Hispanic immigrants, with estimated elasticities of around -0.1. However, we also find that the wage and employment effects of minimum wages on low‐skilled immigrants diminished over the last decade. This finding is consistent with more restrictive state immigration policies and the Great Recession inducing outmigration of low‐skilled immigrants, as well as immigrants moving into the informal sector. Finally, our results show that raising the minimum wage is an ineffective policy tool for reducing poverty among immigrants.

Skilled Immigrants and American Industrialization: Lessons from Newport News Shipyard
Walker Hanlon
Business History Review, Winter 2018, Pages 605-632

In the late nineteenth century, American shipyards started building modern metal ships, a sector dominated by the British. But, they faced a challenge: a shortage of domestic workers with the skills to fabricate large metal ships. Using census of population data, this article describes how one important U.S. shipyard, Newport News Shipbuilding, overcame the shortage of skilled domestic workers to assemble an effective labor force. The results show that skilled immigrants, mainly from Britain, played an important role in the shipyard's early life while, over time, native workers were trained to fill skilled occupations.

Knowledge Remittances: Does Emigration Foster Innovation?
Thomas Fackler, Yvonne Giesing & Nadzeya Laurentsyeva
University of Munich Working Paper, December 2018

Does the emigration of skilled individuals necessarily result in losses for source countries due to the brain drain? Combining industry-level patenting and migration data from 32 European countries, we show that emigration in fact positively contributes to innovation in source countries. We use changes in the labour mobility legislation within Europe as exogenous variation to establish causality. By analysing patent citation data, we further provide evidence that these positive effects are driven by knowledge flows that are triggered by emigrants. While skilled migrants are not inventing in their home country anymore, they contribute to cross-border knowledge and technology diffusion and thus help less advanced countries to catch up to the technology frontier.

Anti‐Immigrant Sentiment and the Adoption of State Immigration Policy
Adam Butz & Jason Kehrberg
Policy Studies Journal, forthcoming

Over the last two decades, the American states have become increasingly active in shaping U.S. immigration policies. One consistent predictor in studies of state immigration policies revolves around public opinion or mass political attitudes in the form of anti‐immigrant sentiment. Unfortunately, past research relies extensively on blunt demographic proxies or other alternative replacements to measure mass opinion. Through incorporating a direct measure of anti‐immigrant sentiment constructed from public opinion surveys, we uncover mixed results. In static models, anti‐immigrant sentiment predicts a state’s overall immigration policy restrictiveness or policy “tone”; however, mass opinion fails to consistently predict immigration restrictiveness in more dynamic models of annual policy change and total number of hostile policies. We theorize that state legislators are likely responding to mass opinion with immigration policy restrictiveness when citizens mobilize and demand accountability during times of heightened issue salience. However, during times of reduced salience among the populace the influence of anti‐immigrant sentiment wanes, and commercial and political elites are seemingly able to shift individual immigration policies in more accommodative directions. Anti‐immigrant sentiment can motivate state immigration policy restriction, but likely only during select periods of heightened issue salience and attentive, engaged citizenry.

Immigration and International Law
Margaret Peters
International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming

At a time when many states are increasing restrictions on immigration, others are using formal agreements on international economic migration to open their borders. The use of international agreements on migration presents a puzzle, as most states can open their borders to migrants unilaterally. I argue that, when states cannot generate large enough flows of migrants or the right type of migrants to fill open positions in the labor market, they turn to the sending state to help them. States that need migrants can negotiate a bilateral labor agreement with a sending state, which then acts as a recruiter, helping to channel labor to the receiving state. This article details the conditions under which immigrant-receiving countries use these treaties and tests the implications of the argument on a new dataset on migration treaties.


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