NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Did the Americanization Movement Succeed? An Evaluation of the Effect of English-Only and Compulsory Schools Laws on Immigrants' Education

Adriana Lleras-Muney, Allison Shertzer

NBER Working Paper No. 18302
Issued in August 2012
NBER Program(s):   DAE   ED

In the early twentieth century, education legislation was often passed based on arguments that new laws were needed to force immigrants to learn English and "Americanize." We provide the first estimates of the effect of statutes requiring English as the language of instruction and compulsory schooling laws on the school enrollment, work, literacy and English fluency of immigrant children from 1910 to 1930. English schooling statutes did increase the literacy of foreign-born children, though only modestly. Compulsory schooling and continuation school laws raised immigrants' enrollment and the effects were much larger for children born abroad than for native-born children.

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This paper was revised on May 14, 2014

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18302

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