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When migrants rule: the legacy of mass migration on economic development in the United States

Rodríguez-Pose, Andrés ORCID: 0000-0002-8041-0856 and von Berlepsch, Viola (2014) When migrants rule: the legacy of mass migration on economic development in the United States. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 104 (3). 628 - 651. ISSN 0004-5608

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00045608.2014.892381


This article examines the extent to which the settlement pattern of migrants arriving in the United States during the major migration waves of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries left a legacy on the economic development of the counties where newcomers settled and whether this legacy endures today. Using data from the 1880, 1900, and 1910 censuses, we first look at the geography of migration by county in the forty-eight continental states. We then link this settlement pattern to current levels of local development-proxied by per-capita gross domestic product at the county level in 2005-while controlling for a number of factors that could have influenced both the location of migrants at the time of migration and the economic development of the county today. The results of the analysis underline that the earlier migration waves have left an indelible trace on territories that still determines local economic performance. U.S. counties that attracted large numbers of migrants more than a century ago remain more dynamic today than counties that did not. The results also show that the territorial imprint of migration has become more pervasive than all other local characteristics that would have shaped the economic performance of U.S. counties in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 by Association of American Geographers
Divisions: LSE
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Date Deposited: 21 May 2014 13:04
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 01:51

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