Working Paper No. 13-01
Who Crossed the Border? Self-Selection of Mexican Migrants in the Early 20th Century
Edward Kosack and Zachary Ward
We explore the self-selection of Mexican migrants to the United States in 1920. We hand-collect data for migrants from manifest lists for towns along the United States-Mexico border. Officials recorded the heights of migrants, a measure that we use to proxy migrant quality and measure self-selection into migration. Migrants, despite being relatively more unskilled than stayers, came from the middle to upper portion of the height distribution in Mexico, and so were positively selected. The result holds within skill group, suggesting that the United States received the best unskilled, skilled and professional workers.
JEL classification: J61, J24, N0, N36
Keywords: Mexico, Early Twentieth Century Migration, Self-Selection, Height