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Age at Arrival and Assimilation During the Age of Mass Migration

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2018

Rohan Alexander
Ph.D. student, Australian National University - Research School of Economics, HW Arndt Building 25A, College of Business and Economics, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia. E-mail:
Zachary Ward
Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Baylor University, One Bear Place 98003, Waco, TX 76798. E-mail:


We estimate the effect of age at arrival for immigrant outcomes with a new dataset of arrivals linked to the 1940 U.S. Census. Using within-family variation, we find that arriving at an older age, or having more childhood exposure to the European environment, led to a more negative wage gap relative to the native born. Infant arrivals had a positive wage gap relative to natives, in contrast to a negative gap for teenage arrivals. Therefore, a key determinant of immigrant outcomes during the Age of Mass Migration was the country of residence during critical periods of childhood development.

© 2018 The Economic History Association. All rights reserved. 

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For comments on earlier stages of this project, we thank Tim Hatton, Priti Kalsi, Ed Kosack, Amber McKinney, and seminar participants at La Trobe University. We also thank Bill Collins and two anonymous referees, whose comments substantially improved the article. An earlier version of this article was circulated as “The Paramount Importance of Childhood Environment during the Age of Mass Migration.” We acknowledge financial support from the College of Business and Economics at the Australian National University. We thank Lee Alston for helping us to access the data used in this study.


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