Migration and International Trade

Migration and International Trade

The US Experience Since 1945

Roger White

This unique book synthesizes and extends the immigrant–trade literature and provides comprehensive coverage of this timely and important topic. In that vein, the author contributes to the understanding of the relationship between immigration and trade and sheds light on a noteworthy aspect of globalization that both confronts policymakers with challenges and offers the potential to overcome them.

Chapter 5: Primacy, Recency and the US Immigrant–Trade Relationship

Roger White

Subjects: development studies, migration, economics and finance, international economics, politics and public policy, migration, social policy and sociology, migration, urban and regional studies, migration


The notion of primacy effects and recency effects comes from the field of psychology. Simply put, given an ordered sequence of items, individuals are more likely to recall the early and later items in the sequence rather than the middle items. A simple way to think of this is that the remembrance of the early items involves long-term memory while recall of the later items involves short-term (perhaps ‘echo’) memory. The primacy effect refers to the remembrance of the impressions made by items early in the sequence, while the recency effect refers to the remembrance of impressions made by items at the end of the sequence. If plotted in x–y space with the probability of recall on the y axis and the order in which items are presented along the x axis, a parabolic relationship would be traced out in which recency effects would account for the left arm of the ‘U’ and primacy effects would account for the right arm. In short, the impressions of items vary according to when each occurs within the sequence. When considered in the context of the US immigrant–trade link, the influence of immigrants from countries generally afforded entry preference prior to 1968 may represent a primacy effect while the influences of immigrants who were largely discouraged or not permitted to immigrate to the US until 1968 may represent a recency effect. Building on this notion of primacy and recency effects, it is expected that the influence of immigrants from countries that...

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