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Discussion Paper

European Immigrants and the United States’ Rise to the Technological Frontier

Published: June 2020
Researchers analyze the relationship between European immigration in the U.S. between 1880 and 1920 and local and aggregate economic growth.

Using individual-level data from the Population Census, researchers develop a new spatial model of growth through dissemination of knowledge and workers’ mobility. They find that immigrants were more prolific innovators than natives, observing large differenes in innovation potential across nationalities and regions in the U.S. Researchers also find that limitations on immigration posed in the 19th and early 20th century had meaningful restrictive effects on the growth of the U.S. economy.

Abstract and Citation