NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

To the New World and Back Again: Return Migrants in the Age of Mass Migration

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, Katherine Eriksson

NBER Working Paper No. 22659
Issued in September 2016
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Labor Studies

We compile large datasets from Norwegian and US historical censuses to study return migration during the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913). Return migrants were somewhat negatively selected from the migrant pool: Norwegian immigrants who returned to Norway held slightly lower-paid occupations than Norwegian immigrants who stayed in the US, both before and after moving to the US. Upon returning to Norway, return migrants held higher-paid occupations than Norwegians who never moved, despite hailing from poorer backgrounds. They were also more likely to get married after return. These patterns suggest that despite being negatively selected, return migrants were able to accumulate savings and improve their economic circumstances once they returned home.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22659

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