Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States

By Isaac A. Hourwich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
EMIGRATION FROM NORTHERN AND WESTERN EUROPE

A. Introductory

THE great influx of Italian, Slav, and Jewish immigrants since 1890 coincides with a decrease of immigration from Northern and Western Europe. This coincidence has been generally accepted as proof that immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe has checked the current of "more desirable" immigration from Northern and Western Europe. This assertion has been clothed in the scientific garb of "the Gresham law of immigration"; bad immigration, it is said, tends to drive out good immigration. The cum hoc, ergo propter hoc method of reasoning has scarcely ever appeared so undisguised as in this newly discovered "law." No attempt has been made to inquire into the conditions of the countries from which the "old immigration" was drawn, with a view to ascertaining, if possible, whether there were any causes tending to check emigration from those countries.

It has been shown in Chapter IV. that in the long run immigration bears an almost constant relation to the population of the United States. Inasmuch, however, as the latter increases faster than the population of Europe, especially that of the emigration countries, the rate of emigration from those countries must increase much faster than their population in order to supply the industries of the United States with the number of immigrants they can employ. Yet the sources of emigration are not unlimited.

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