Lured in and crowded out? Estimating the impact of immigration on natives' education using early 20th century US immigration

Available from: 
October 2013
Paper author(s): 
Jeanne Lafortune (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)
Jose Tessada (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)
Demographic Economics - Migration
Education - Health

Immigration can impact educational decisions of natives through two different margins. First, it can increase the potential returns to education by generating a larger supply of unskilled workers, thus raising the relative wages of more educated individuals. Secondly, it can increase the cost of acquiring education through crowding out natives of public schools. We separate these two channels by separately estimating the causal impact of the immigration of adults and children on the educational decisions of natives at the state-cohort level in a context of rapid changes in educational attainment, the United States from 1910 to 1935. We find that more adults leads to an increase in school attendance, high school enrollment and graduation while immigration of children has the opposite effect. We find these two effects to be particularly relevant for urban males of US born parents. We document that parents attempted to counteract the effect of immigration by enrolling their children in private schools but we find little evidence of change in geographic locations. We finally use our estimates to calibrate that only 10 to 15 percent of the ``high school movement'' can be attributed to the 1920s limitations on immigration and that other factors were obviously more important determinants.


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Research section: 
Lacea 2013 annual meeting
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