Europe's Tired, Poor, Huddled Masses: Self-Selection and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration
The Age of Mass Migration (1850-1913) was among the largest migration episodes in history.
Unlike today, the United States maintained an open border in this era. We compile a novel
dataset of Norway-to-US migrants and estimate the return to migration while accounting for
migrant selection. Our first method compares migrants to their brothers who remained in
Norway; our second exploits the fact that, under primogeniture, older sons in land-owning
families were less likely to migrate. We find that these migrants, unhindered by entry
restrictions, were negatively selected from the sending population, and that the return to
migration was relatively low.