Immigration Policies and Pathways of Migration: A Comparative Historical Perspective

Research question/goal: 

In recent 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-run 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 define who can come and stay in the country – ranging from open border policies in the U.S. during the 19th century or the EU internal market to restrictive policies like Canada’s point system. Citizenship policies in turn determine who can 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