Discrimination and the Returns to Cultural Assimilation in the Age of Mass Migration

We document that, in the early twentieth century, children of immigrants who were given more-foreign first names completed fewer years of schooling, earned less, and married less assimilated spouses. However, we find few differences in the adult outcomes of brothers with more/less foreign-sounding first names. This pattern suggests that the negative association between ethnic names and adult outcomes in this era does not stem from discrimination on the basis of first names but instead reflects household differences associated with cultural assimilation. We cannot rule out discrimination on the basis of other ethnic cues.