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By Liz Warren-Pederson


A 2010 paper co-authored by Price Fishback, the Thomas R. Brown Professor of Economics, has been recognized by the Minnesota Population Center. The paper looks at the effect of internal migration on local labor markets, and the award is for best published research using information from the Integrated Public Use Micro-Samples for Census data, a commonly-used source by social science researchers.

“Most people who talk about the effects of in-migration on labor markets in cities focus on immigrants from outside the country,” Fishback said. “It turns out that in-migration into cities by immigrants is very small relative to in-migration into cities from people from other places in the United States.”

Fishback, an economic historian who has conducted path-breaking research on the Great Depression, focused on the 1930s for this particular paper. “The Great Depression offers a unique laboratory to investigate the causal impact of migration on local labor markets,” he said. “We use variation in the generosity of New Deal programs and extreme weather events to instrument for migrant flows to and from U.S. cities.”

Fishback and his coauthors demonstrated that in-migration had little effect on the hourly earnings of existing residents. Instead, in-migration prompted some residents to move away and others to lose weeks of work and access to relief jobs. “For every ten arrivals, we estimate that 1.9 residents moved out, 2.1 were prevented from finding a relief job, and 1.9 shifted from full-time to part-time work,” he said.