University of California, Los Angeles
3210 Sawtelle Blvd Apt 207
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Institutional Affiliation: University of California at Los Angeles
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|December 2019||The Effects of Immigration on the Economy: Lessons from the 1920s Border Closure|
with , , , : w26536
In the 1920s, the United States substantially reduced immigrant entry by imposing country-specific quotas. We compare local labor markets with more or less exposure to the national quotas due to differences in initial immigrant settlement. A puzzle emerges: the earnings of existing US-born workers declined after the border closure, despite the loss of immigrant labor supply. We find that more skilled US-born workers – along with unrestricted immigrants from Mexico and Canada – moved into affected urban areas, completely replacing European immigrants. By contrast, the loss of immigrant workers encouraged farmers to shift toward capital-intensive agriculture and discouraged entry from unrestricted workers.