Immigration, Industrial Revolution and Urban Growth in the United States, 1820-1920: Factor Endowments, Technology and Geography
NBER Working Paper No. 12900
Industrial revolution is fundamentally linked with the rise of factories and the decline of skilled artisans in manufacturing. Most scholars agree that factories as compared to artisan shops were intensive in unskilled labor. Indeed, the hallmark of the early factories is the utilization of division of labor of relatively unskilled workers. This paper explores whether the massive influx of unskilled immigrants between 1840 and 1920, by significantly increasing the ratio of unskilled to skilled labor endowment, contributed to the growth and spread of factory manufacturing in the United States. The data indicate that immigration not only contributed to the growth and spread of factories but it also contributed to the growth of cities.