International Handbook on Migration and Economic Development
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International Handbook on Migration and Economic Development

Edited by Robert E.B. Lucas

This Handbook summarizes the state of thinking and presents new evidence on various links between international migration and economic development, with particular reference to lower-income countries. The connections between trade, aid and migration are critically examined through global case studies.
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Chapter 3: The economic history of migration: the pre-World War One USA as lens

Robert A. Margo


This chapter briefly surveys the principal issues in the economic history of international migration. As a way of framing this vast, unruly topic, I view the issues through the lens of the nation receiving the majority of immigrants historically – the United States prior to World War One. I begin by discussing the economic theory of migration, followed by the history of population movement to the New World from 1500 to 1800. Next, I recount the “Age of Mass Migration”, framed around the important project by Timothy Hatton and Jeffrey G. Williamson. The essay concludes with a discussion of the WWI-era legislation that “closed the door” to the United States and the internal migration of African-Americans that it prompted.

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