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Leaving the Enclave: Historical Evidence on Immigrant Mobility from the Industrial Removal Office

SIEPR
Jul 2020
Working Paper
20-031
By  Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, Dylan Connor

We study a program that funded 39,000 Jewish households in New York City to leave enclave neighborhoods circa 1910. Compared to their neighbors with the same occupation and income score at baseline, program participants earned 4 percent more ten years after removal, and these gains persisted to the next generation. Men who left enclaves also married spouses with less Jewish names, but they did not choose less Jewish names for their children. Gains were largest for men who spent more years outside of an enclave. Our results suggest that leaving ethnic neighborhoods could facilitate economic advancement and assimilation into the broader society, but might make it more difficult to retain cultural identity.