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Immigration and the Canadian Earnings Distribution in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

  • Alan G. Green (a1) and David A. Green (a2)

We use newly available micro-data from the 1911 to 1941 Canadian Censuses to investigate the impact of immigration on the Canadian earnings distribution in the first half of the twentieth century. We show that Canadian inequality rose sharply in the inter-war years, particularly in the 1920s, coinciding with two of the largest immigration decades in Canadian history. We find that immigration was not the main force driving changes in the earnings distribution. This results from a combination of self-selection by immigrants, occupational adjustments after arrival, and general equilibrium adjustments in the economy.

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We are grateful to Herb Emery for providing us with wage series he collected from the Labour Gazette and for several useful conversations about this paper. We benefited from useful conversations with Mary Mackinnon and with participants at the 2005 CNEH meetings and the 2006 TARGET meetings.

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
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