The Cream of What Crop? Selectivity and Local Determinants of Migration from Ireland to the United States in the Early 20th Century

Dylan Connor, University of California, Los Angeles

Research suggests that international migration is a highly selective process. However, there is debate in the literature as to whether migrants tend to be positively or negatively selected and, further, about how selection differs across sending locations. In this paper, I link over 300,000 people from Ireland in 1901 to either Ireland in 1911 or to the United States in 1910. I estimate a series of multinomial logit models to examine the determinants of internal and international migration. I model a range of local characteristics and use GIS to explore spatial variability in migration behaviors. After analyzing migrant characteristics, family characteristics and places of origin, I conclude that migrants from Ireland were positively selected on family status, occupation and human capital. Further, local opportunities influence the odds of migration but this is complicated by the striking spatial polarization of international and internal moves.

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Presented in Session 11: Historical Demography