A lecture by Leah Boustan, Princeton University
Immigrants to the US today move up the economic ladder and engage in cultural assimilation at the same pace as immigrants during the Ellis Island generation. What's more, the children of immigrants experience rapid social mobility, even if their parents hailed from poor countries. So, why are prospects for immigration reform so dim? This stalemate is more surprising in light of new evidence from the Congressional Record showing that political attitudes toward immigration have never been more positive in US history, albeit more divided by political party. Textual analysis reveals that the partisan divide on immigration is not driven by economic considerations. Rather, the most polarized topics are crime on one side, and positive views of refugees on the other. The lecture will conclude with new insights on immigration and crime, and on refugees, throughout US history.
Leah Boustan is a Professor of Economics at Princeton University, where she also serves as the Director of the Industrial Relations Section. Her research lies at the intersection between economic history and labor economics. Her first book, Competition in the Promised Land: Black Migrants in Northern Cities and Labor Markets (Princeton University Press, 2016) examines the effect of the Great Black Migration from the rural south during and after World War II. Her recent work, including her new book Streets of Gold: America's Untold Story of Immigrant Success (PublicAffairs 2022), is on the mass migration from Europe to the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Professor Boustan is co-director of the Development of the American Economy Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She also serves as co-editor at the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. Professor Boustan was named an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in 2012 and won the IZA Young Labor Economists Award in 2019.