The Effects of Immigration on the Economy over the 20th Century: Lessons from the Closing and Re-opening of the Border

12-1 pm

PSTC Seminar Room 205

Leah Boustan, Professor of Economics, Princeton University

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Co-sponsored with Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4).

Boustan will address the effects of the closure of the U.S. border to new immigrants in the 1920s on local labor markets. A series of sending-country-specific quotas imposed in 1924 reduced immigrant flows by up to 95 percent. She compares areas that initially had high or low levels of immigrants from quota-restricted countries before and after the border closure. She finds that local areas most affected by the border closure lost both foreign-born and native-born population after the quotas. She then uses individual panel data built from Census links to study the migration decisions and occupational choices of native-born workers in an era of immigration restriction.

Boustan's research lies at the intersection between economic history and labor economics. Her book, Competition in the Promised Land: Black Migrants in Northern Cities and Labor Markets (Princeton University Press, 2016) examines the effect of the Great Black Migration from the rural south during and after World War II. Her recent work has been on the mass migration from Europe to the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is a faculty associate of the Industrial Relations Section and co-director of the Development of the American Economy Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She also serves as co-editor at the Journal of Urban Economics and on the editorial board of the American Economic Review and the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Boustan was named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in 2012 and was a Research Fellow at the Straus Institute at the NYU School of Law in 2013.

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