Does It Matter Where You Came From? Ancestry Composition and Economic Performance of U.S. Counties, 1850-2010

103 Pages Posted: 22 May 2015 Last revised: 21 Feb 2017

See all articles by Scott Fulford

Scott Fulford

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Ivan Petkov

Northeastern University

Fabio Schiantarelli

Boston College - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2017

Abstract

The United States provides a unique laboratory for understanding how the cultural, institutional, and human capital endowments of immigrant groups shape economic outcomes. In this paper, we use census micro-samples to reconstruct the country-of-ancestry composition of the population of U.S. counties from 1850 to 2010 and describe its evolution. We also develop a county-level measure of GDP per worker over the same period. Using this novel panel data set, we show that the evolution of a county’s ancestry composition is significantly associated with changes in county-level GDP. The cultural, institutional, and human capital endowments from the country of origin drive this relationship. We also use an instrumental variable strategy to identify the effect of endowments on local economic development. Finally, our results suggest that while ancestry diversity is positively related to county GDP, diversity in attributes is negatively related to county GDP. We show that part of this relationship is explained by the close link between occupational variety and ancestry diversity.

Keywords: Immigration, Ethnicity, Ancestry, Economic Development, Culture, Institutions, Human Capital

JEL Classification: J15, N31, N32, O10, Z10

Suggested Citation

Fulford, Scott and Petkov, Ivan and Schiantarelli, Fabio, Does It Matter Where You Came From? Ancestry Composition and Economic Performance of U.S. Counties, 1850-2010 (January 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2608567 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2608567

Scott Fulford

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ( email )

United States

Ivan Petkov

Northeastern University ( email )

220 B RP
Boston, MA 02115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.northeastern.edu/cssh/faculty/ivan-petkov

Fabio Schiantarelli (Contact Author)

Boston College - Department of Economics ( email )

140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States
617-552-4512 (Phone)
617-552-2308 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/a/bc.edu/fabio-schiantarelli/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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