Immigrant Group Size and Political Mobilization: Evidence from European Migration to the United States
This paper investigates the determinants of political mobilization for immigrants to the United States. I use newly assembled data on ethnic enclaves in American cities to explore how immigrant group size influences the political behavior of immigrants, focusing on their decision to become naturalized citizens at a time when the United States maintained an open border and citizenship conferred only voting rights. I find that immigrants were more likely to become politically mobilized as their ethnic group’s share of the local electorate grew relatively larger, peaking at about one fifth electorate share and declining subsequently. I show this effect is driven by political mobilization of immigrants in places where the Democratic Party likely needed their vote to win elections and where immigrants had established social networks.
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This paper was revised on May 22, 2013