Occupational status of working white males in the United States: A longitudinal analysis of European immigrants,1880 to 1900

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Immigration was at its prime in the turn of the 20th century with more than 22 million European immigrants entering the United States from 1880 to 1900 (U.S Census). How did these immigrants fare in the United States labor market compared to native-born people has been an intriguing question to historical demographers. Previous studies have looked at aggregated immigrant groups in data sets recorded at single time points. Recently, the availability of complete-count census microdata and subsequently the linked representative samples released by the Minnesota Population Center (MPC) has permitted the longitudinal analysis of individuals over two census years. In this paper, we look at more than 800 white European male immigrants in 1880 and the same set of immigrants in 1900 and determine the change in their employment status. We compare these European immigrants to the native-born born white males, who act as a control group. Additionally, we look at the occupation of more than 550 20 to 50 year old white males whose parents are first generation immigrants from Europe and compare them to white males whose parents are native-born. Our analysis shows that the year of immigration is an important determinant regarding the change in occupational status for several occupational groups. Those immigrating in the early part of the 19th century mostly work as farmers or laborers in both 1880 and 1900; however, those immigrating in the later part of the century are upwardly mobile in their occupation status with transitions from blue-collar to white-collar jobs.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2011
EventSocial Science History Conference - Massachusetts, Boston
Duration: Nov 17 2011Nov 20 2011


ConferenceSocial Science History Conference


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