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Ran Abramitzky
Working Papers

Automated Linking of Historical Data

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, James J. Feigenbaum, Santiago Pérez
NBER , 2020

The recent digitization of complete count census data is an extraordinary opportunity for social scientists to create large longitudinal datasets by linking individuals from one census to another or from other sources to the census. We evaluate different automated methods for record linkage, performing a series of comparisons across methods and against hand linking. We have three main findings that lead us to conclude that automated methods perform well. First, a number of automated methods generate very low (less than 5%) false positive rates.

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Working Papers

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

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, Dylan Connor
NBER , 2020

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.

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Conference Memos

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

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, Katherine Eriksson, Stephanie Hao
AEA Papers and Proceedings , 2020

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.

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Journal Articles

Do Immigrants Assimilate More Slowly Today Than in the Past?

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, Katherine Eriksson
American Economic Review: Insights , 2020

Using millions of historical census records and modern birth certificates, we document that immigrants assimilated into US society at similar rates in the past and present. We measure cultural assimilation as immigrants giving their children less foreign names after spending more time in the United States, and show that immigrants erase about one-half of the naming gap with natives after 20 years both historically and today. Immigrants from poorer countries choose more foreign names upon first arrival in both periods but are among the fastest to shift toward native-sounding names.

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Working Papers

Were Jews in Interwar Poland More Educated?

Ran Abramitzky, Hanna Halaburda
NBER Working Paper , 2020

In the context of interwar Poland, we find that Jews tended to be more literate than non Jews, but show that this finding is driven by a composition effect. In particular, most Jews lived in cities and most non-Jews lived in rural areas, and people in cities were more educated than people in villages regardless of their religion. The case of interwar Poland illustrates that the Jewish relative education advantage depends on the historical and institutional contexts.

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Journal Articles

Linking individuals across historical sources: A fully automated approach

Ran Abramitzky, Roy Mill, Santiago Pérez
Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History , 2019

Linking individuals across historical datasets relies on information such as name and age that is both non-unique and prone to enumeration and transcription errors. These errors make it impossible to find the correct match with certainty. In the first part of the paper, we suggest a fully automated probabilistic method for linking historical datasets that enables researchers to create samples at the frontier of minimizing type I (false positives) and type II (false negatives) errors. The first step guides researchers in the choice of which varia-bles to use for linking.

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Working Papers

The Long-Term Spillover Effects of Changes in the Return to Schooling

Ran Abramitzky, Victor Lavy, Santiago Pérez
NBER Working Paper , 2018

We study the short and long-term spillover effects of a pay reform that substantially increased the returns to schooling in Israeli kibbutzim. This pay reform, which induced kibbutz students to improve their academic achievements during high school, spilled over to non-kibbutz members who attended schools with these kibbutz students. In the short run, peers of kibbutz students improved their high school outcomes and shifted to courses with higher financial returns. In the medium and long run, peers completed more years of postsecondary schooling and increased their earnings.

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Books

The Mystery of the Kibbutz: Egalitarian Principles in a Capitalist World

Ran Abramitzky
Princeton University Press , 2018

How the kibbutz movement thrived despite its inherent economic contradictions and why it eventually declined

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Journal Articles

To the New World and Back Again: Return Migrants in the Age of Mass Migration

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, Katherine Eriksson
ILR Review , 2017

The authors compile large data sets from Norwegian and US historical censuses to study return migration during the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1913). Norwegian immigrants who returned to Norway held lower-paid occupations than did Norwegian immigrants who stayed in the United States, both before and after their first transatlantic migration, suggesting they were negatively selected from the migrant pool. Upon returning to Norway, return migrants held higher-paid occupations relative to Norwegians who never moved, despite hailing from poorer backgrounds.

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Working Papers

Cultural Assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, Katherine Eriksson
NBER Working Paper Series , 2016

Using two million census records, we document cultural assimilation during the Age of Mass Migration, a formative period in US history. Immigrants chose less foreign names for children as they spent more time in the US, eventually closing half of the gap with natives. Many immigrants also intermarried and learned English. Name-based assimilation was similar by literacy status, and faster for immigrants who were more culturally distant from natives. Cultural assimilation affected the next generation.

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Journal Articles

Have the poor always been less likely to migrate? Evidence from inheritance practices during the Age of Mass Migration

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, Katherine Eriksson
Journal of Development Economics , 2013

Using novel data on 50,000 Norwegian men, we study the effect of wealth on the probability of internal or international migration during the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1913), a time when the US maintained an open border to European immigrants. We do so by exploiting variation in parental wealth and in expected inheritance by birth order, gender composition of siblings, and region. We find that wealth discouraged migration in this era, suggesting that the poor could be more likely to move if migration restrictions were lifted today.

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Journal Articles

A Nation of Immigrants: Assimilation and Economic Outcomes in the Age of Mass Migration

Ran Abramitzky, Leah Platt Boustan, Katherine Eriksson
Journal of Political Economy ,

During the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1913), the United States maintained an open border, absorbing 30 million European immigrants. Prior cross-sectional work finds that immigrants initially held lower-paid occupations than natives but converged over time. In newly assembled panel data, the article authors show that, in fact, the average immigrant did not face a substantial occupation-based earnings penalty upon first arrival and experienced occupational advancement at the same rate as natives.

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