Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Food for Thought on Immigration

Interesting results from three economists based on information from 195 countries and methodology that I am not competent to describe:

We show that birthplace diversity is . . . positively related to economic development even after controlling for education, institutions, ethnic and linguistic fractionalization, trade openness, geography, market size, and origin-effects.
Their introduction cites other papers pertaining to the 1870-1920 migration boom in the US. All this is not directly related to genealogy, but it is indirectly related to the extent that our "common-sense" assumptions about immigration and emigration in history can be wrong, and insofar as possible it helps us think about the particular if we have a better idea of what the general facts seem to be. These findings certainly suggest that, whatever else it does or did, the nativist response to immigration was not likely to lead to prosperity. The kind of common sense their research supports is this:
The reason why birthplace diversity could be bene…ficial for productivity is due
to skill complementarity. People born in different places are likely to have dif-
ferent productive skills because they have been exposed to different experiences,
different school systems, different "cultures" and thus have developed different
perspectives that allow them to interpret and solve problems differently. These
differences can be complementary and lead to higher productivity.

Alberto Alesina, Johann Harnoss, and Hillel Rapoport, "Birthplace Diversity and Economic Prosperity," third draft, January 2013, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper no. 18699 ( : accessed 14 January 2013). 

Harold Henderson, "Food for Thought on Immigration," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 16 January 2013 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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