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Working Paper

The Effect of Immigration on Local Labor Markets: Lessons from the 1920s Border Closure


Abstract: In the 1920s, the United States substantially reduced immigration by imposing country-specific entry quotas. We compare local labor markets differentially exposed to the quotas due to variation in the national origin mix of their immigrant populations. U.S.-born workers in areas losing immigrants did not gain in income score relative to workers in less exposed areas. Instead, in urban areas, European immigrants were replaced with internal migrants and immigrants from Mexico and Canada. By contrast, farmers shifted toward capital-intensive agriculture, and the immigrant-intensive mining industry contracted. These differences highlight the uneven effects of the quota system at the local level.

Keywords: Immigration; Immigrants; Labor;

JEL Classification: J61; N31; N32;

https://doi.org/10.18651/RWP2021-09

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File(s): File format is application/pdf https://www.kansascityfed.org/documents/8407/rwp21-09abramitzkygerboustancohenhansen.pdf
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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Part of Series: Research Working Paper

Publication Date: 2021-09-30

Number: RWP 21-09