Immigration Policies and Pathways of Migration: A Comparative Historical Perspective

Research question/goal: 

In the last years, Germany has experienced sizable immigration flows, culminating in net migration rates of more than 1% of the population in 2015. Large-scale migration flows between countries are, of course, nothing new. The age of mass migration during the late 19th and early 20th century saw massive emigration flows from European countries, including Germany and Italy, to America. Countries that are popular destinations for immigrants have a strong interest in fostering the long-term prosperity of those who arrive at their shores and aspire to become permanent residents. Yet, how much can immigration countries influence the destiny of immigrants and their descendants? The proposed project seeks to understand the role of two important immigration policies—entry restrictions and citizenship policy—and how they interact with the personal background and local network immigrants are embedded in. Entry policies—ranging from open border policies in the U.S. during the 19th century or the EU internal market to restrictive policies such as Canada’s point system—define who may come and stay in the country. Citizenship policies in turn determine who may remain in the country and become a full member of the destination society. The proposed project employs a long-term and comparative perspective comparing evidence from contemporaneous Germany with the experience during the era of mass migration to the United States. For the historical analysis, we will employ machine learning techniques to generate a large database on immigrants by linking historical census records and other administrative data sources from the United States, Italy and Germany.

Fact sheet

2019 to 2024
Data Sources: 
IPUMS Census, Mikrozensus, European Social Survey, Archival Data
Geographic Space: 
United States, Italy and Germany