The Black Great Migration and the Integration of White Ethnic Immigrants

Nicholas Pang, Columbia University

How do dominant groups respond to the arrival of new outgroups in relation to existing outgroups? While most research on intergroup relations exists within a two-group paradigm, recent scholarship on multi-group relations suggests that dominant groups contract boundaries when faced with new out-groups. This relative absence is manifest in scholarship on turn of the twentieth century European and Black American migrations, when an estimated 30 million Europeans migrated to the United States and upwards of 4 million Black Americans migrated to the Northern United States. I utilize newly digitized full-count U.S. census records in 90 Northern and Western metropolitan areas to examine how Black American immigration affected native-born Northern white Americans’ response to European immigrant integration efforts. In particular, I hypothesize that the economic return to European immigrant integration efforts, in terms of naturalization status and ethnically indistinctive given names among the children of immigrants, is greater in cities with higher rates of Black immigration. Furthermore, I hypothesize that the social returns of European immigrant integration efforts are higher in cities with more Black migration. Following past scholarship, in order to avoid confounding city level factors, I create a “shift-share” instrument to predict Black immigration based on past migration patterns and contemporary push-level factors. Results reveal that European immigrant integration efforts had larger effects on their social and economic advancement in cities with higher levels of Black immigration. These positive effects were larger among immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe than immigrants from Northern Europe. Together, these results suggest that the integration of European immigrants was facilitated through the growth of the Northern Black population, in addition to the integration efforts of European immigrants themselves. This suggests that when experiencing demographic threat, dominant groups may expand group boundaries in order include an existing outgroup against a new outgroup.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 83. Migrant, Ethnic and National Identity Formation and Knowledge Production