Leaving the Enclave: Historical Evidence on Immigrant Mobility from the Industrial Removal Office
We study a program that funded 39,000 Jewish households in New York City to leave enclave neighborhoods circa 1910. Compared to their neighbors with the same occupation and income score at baseline, program participants earned 4 percent more ten years after removal, and these gains persisted to the next generation. Men who left enclaves also married spouses with less Jewish names, but they did not choose less Jewish names for their children. Gains were largest for men who spent more years outside of an enclave. Our results suggest that leaving ethnic neighborhoods could facilitate economic advancement and assimilation into the broader society, but might make it more difficult to retain cultural identity.
We express our sincere gratitude to the American Jewish Historical Society and Susan Malbin for sharing the records of the Industrial Removal Office, and to David Rosenberg, Boni Koelliker and Tanya Elder for assistance with the archives. Keyoung Lee and Myera Rashid, along with Pritpal Araich, Katherine Delk, Jake Kantor, Conrad Makow and Alexander Newton, provided invaluable research assistance. Allison Shertzer generously shared her enumeration district shape files. Chris Becker, Alvaro Calderon, William Collins, Dora Costa, Martin Dribe, Katherine Eriksson, Nicky Halterman, Santiago Perez, Roger Waldinger and Maisy Wong offered helpful feedback, as did Jamie Goodwin-White, David Rigby and Michael Storper. We thank participants at meetings of the Association of American Geographers, the Homer Hoyt Institute, and the Population Association of America, and seminar participants at CUNY, LSE, Lund, the Minnesota Population Center, UCLA, Vanderbilt and Warwick. This research was supported by funding from the NUI Travelling Studentship, the Center for Jewish Studies at UCLA, the All-UC Economic History research group and a travel grant from the geography department at UCLA. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.