The Reward of Audacity? Looking at Migration Gains in Urbanizing France, 1870-1940

Lionel Kesztenbaum, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Migration may be view as a way to take advantage of opportunities on distant labor markets. However few studies were able to quantify the relationship between social and geographic mobility. By combining a large database that gives information on both individuals and their family with military registers that provide detailed migration history, we can assess social and wealth mobility for both migrants and stayers. At the end of the 19th century, France experienced high economic growth that created spatial heterogeneity and a standardization of education levels. Then we expect social mobility to be high. We show that, indeed, migrants are more socially mobile but they also have much less wealth than stayers. This may be linked to the high cost of migrating as well as to different strategies or tastes regarding assets accumulation. Finally, we use family characteristics to account for migrants’ selection.

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Presented in Session 139: Historical Demography