To the New World and Back Again: Return Migrants in the Age of Mass Migration
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.
We thank Orley Ashenfelter and Alex Mas for the invitation to present this paper at Henry Farber’s Festschrift at Princeton University in April 2016. We appreciate helpful comments from Dylan Connor, Dora Costa, Walker Hanlon, Santiago Perez, Tom Zohar, and numerous participants at the Festschrift conference (not least of which, Hank himself!). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan & Katherine Eriksson, 2019. "To the New World and Back Again: Return Migrants in the Age of Mass Migration," ILR Review, vol 72(2), pages 300-322. citation courtesy of