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Immigrant Socioeconomic Mobility in the Age of Mass Migration

  • Author(s): Catron, Peter
  • Advisor(s): Waldinger, Roger
  • et al.
Abstract

This dissertation examines what mechanisms allowed for the economic success of immigrant populations who entered in the first half of the twentieth century. Sociologists have largely speculated about yesterday’s immigrant progress, and then make claims about whether today’s immigrants will follow a similar trajectory without testing their claims. However, data are currently being released as confidentiality requirements expire across the world, which allows me to recreate the entire immigrant experience during this time that was previously impossible. Thus, I create longitudinal datasets where I track individuals from their home country in Europe to when they are living in the US. Each of my substantive chapters (2-4) focuses on particular aspects of immigrants during this time that has been previously thought to facilitate or hinder economic mobility. Drawing on data from passenger records, complete count censuses, and personnel records from manufacturing companies, I tease out various mechanisms that allowed yesterday’s immigrants to enter the working and middle class. This dissertation joins a burgeoning literature that analyzes immigrant socioeconomic mobility within and across generations in the first half of the twentieth century.

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