On the Economics and Politics of Mobility
Sammanfattning: Exit, Voice and Political Change: Evidence from Swedish Mass Migration to the United States. During the Age of Mass Migration, 30 million Europeans immigrated to the United States. We study the long-term political effects of this large-scale migration episode on origin communities using detailed historical data from Sweden. To instrument for emigration, we exploit severe local frost shocks that sparked an initial wave of emigration, interacted with within-country travel costs. Because Swedish emigration was highly path dependent, the initial shocks strongly predict total emigration over 50 years. Our estimates show that emigration substantially increased membership in local labor organizations, the strongest political opposition groups at the time. Furthermore, emigration caused greater strike participation, and mobilized voter turnout and support for left-wing parties in national elections. Emigration also had formal political effects, as measured by welfare expenditures and adoption of inclusive political institutions. Together, our findings indicate that large-scale emigration can achieve long-lasting effects on the political equilibrium in origin communities.Mass Migration and Technological Innovation at the Origin. This essay studies the effects of migration on technological innovations in origin communities. Using historical data from Sweden, we find that large-scale emigration caused a long-run increase in patent innovations in origin municipalities. Our IV estimate shows that a ten percent increase in emigration entails a 7 percent increase in a muncipality’s number of patents. Weighting patents by a measure of their economic value, the positive effects are further increased. Discussing possible mechanisms, we suggest that low skilled labor scarcity may be an explanation for these results. Richer (and Holier) Than Thou? The Impact of Relative Income Improvements on Demand for Redistribution. We use a tailor-made survey on a Swedish sample to investigate how individuals' relative income affects their demand for redistribution. We first document that a majority misperceive their position in the income distribution and believe that they are poorer, relative to others, than they actually are. We then inform a subsample about their true relative income, and find that individuals who are richer than they initially thought demand less redistribution. This result is driven by individuals with prior right-of-center political preferences who view taxes as distortive and believe that effort, rather than luck, drives individual economic success.Wealth, home ownership and mobility. Rent controls on housing have long been thought to reduce labor mobility and allocative efficiency. We study a policy that allowed renters to purchase their rent-controlled apartments at below market prices, and examine the effects of home ownership and wealth on mobility. Treated individuals have a substantially higher likelihood of moving to a new home in a given year. The effect corresponds to a 30 percent increase from the control group mean. The size of the wealth shock predicts lower mobility, while the positive average effect can be explained by tenants switching from the previous rent-controlled system to market-priced condominiums. By contrast, we do not find that the increase in residential mobility leads to a greater probability of moving to a new place of work.
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