Immigration has positive effects on the economy. Even a century away


From a study recently published in Review of Economic Studies, which touches us closely and sees us among the protagonists, it emerges that the US states that have historically welcomed more European migrants have earned us in innovation, employment, economic growth and welfare of the citizens.

In an attempt to shed light on the consequences of immigration in the long run - and not only in the contingent historical phase, on which most research is concentrated - scientists from the London School of Economics and Harvard University have studied the economic effects of the reception of migrants in the USA from 1850 to 1920, in what historians call the Age of Mass Migration.

a river in flood. Not only in this historical phase did migratory flows progressively increase, but their origin also changed. If in 1850 more than 90% of foreigners in the United States came from Great Britain, Ireland and Germany, by 1920 this percentage had fallen to 45%. The analyzed period also overlaps with that of the Italian "great emigration" (1876-1915) which saw the exodus from our country of over 14 million people, just over a quarter of the current population of the boot.

Immediate benefits. Already in the short term, states that received more migrants registered an increase in the number and importance of industrial establishments, greater agricultural productivity and higher levels of innovation. The contribution of the newcomers to the economy took the form of a wide availability of low-skilled labor, plus a small number of skilled workers, who brought knowledge and knowledge fundamental to economic development.

The geography of migrations

Prolonged effects. But the benefits did not end in a short period of time. According to the study, a 4.9% increase in immigrants in a region corresponds to a 13% increase in average per capita current salary, to a 44% increase in per capita manufacturing production between 1860 and 1920 (and of the 78% in 1930), a 37% increase in the value of agricultural activities and 152% growth in the number of patents per capita.

Value added. At the same time, the social costs in the analyzed period have not increased. Countries that have historically hosted more migrant settlements now have similar levels of social unity, solidarity, civic participation and crime compared to others. For researchers, the study, which shows several parallels with the current situation, offers a different view and not always valued for approaching migration issues.