Trade and Immigration, 1870-2010

33 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2018 Last revised: 3 May 2021

See all articles by David S. Jacks

David S. Jacks

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John P. Tang

ANU Research School of Economics

Date Written: September 2018


In this chapter, we describe long-run trends in global merchandise trade and immigration from 1870 to 2010. We revisit the reasons why these two forces moved largely in parallel in the decades leading up to World War I, collapsed during the interwar period, and then rebounded (but with much more pronounced growth in trade than in immigration). More substantively, we also document a large redistribution in the regional sources of goods and people with a shift from the former industrialized core countries—especially Europe—to those in the former periphery—especially Asia—as well as a very striking change in the composition of merchandise trade towards manufactured goods precisely dating from 1950. Finally, using a triple differences framework in combination with a dramatic change in US immigration policy, we find evidence that immigration and trade potentially acted as substitutes, at least for the United States in the interwar period.

Suggested Citation

Jacks, David S. and Tang, John P., Trade and Immigration, 1870-2010 (September 2018). NBER Working Paper No. w25010, Available at SSRN:

David S. Jacks (Contact Author)

Simon Fraser University (SFU) - Department of Economics ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John P. Tang

ANU Research School of Economics ( email )

LF Crisp Building 26
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200

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