Gender, migration and labor market: Swedish migration to the US at the turn of the 20th century.

Lilla salen Session 6: Historical Perspectives on Migration organized by Jonatan Andersson


Marcos Castillo


During the Age of Mass Migration (1860-1930), over a million Swedes migrated to the US, with a little over 40% of them being women. While recent advances in digitization and record-linking techniques have allowed researchers to explore different migration dynamics using longitudinal micro-level data, female migration is often missing from these studies due to challenges in linking women across data sources. This is because women changed their last names after marriage and their occupations were often underreported. While economic incentives have been attributed as the main driver for migration, the experience of female migrants was different from that of men due to various factors such as their reliance on migrant networks, limited available occupations, and reluctance to upgrade their occupation in the US. In this paper, I stress the importance of understanding the unique experiences of female migration and explore the occupational trajectories of Swedish women in either the US or Sweden during the period 1886-1910. Specifically, I investigate whether migrant women were less likely to experience occupational changes than stayers, using data from Swedish and US censuses (1890-1910), and the Swedish Emigrant Register (1886-1910). To address the challenges of linking women across data sources, I restrict our analysis to unmarried men and women upon entry into the labor market. I use probabilistic matching methods like the ABE-JW algorithm to link men and women across data sources and to reduce bias introduced by migrant selection, I compare migrant-stayer immigrants coming from the same parish to account for unobserved parish heterogeneity. I expect to find that migrant women were less likely to change their occupations compared to stayers, particularly due to Sweden’s rapid industrialization during this period. By emphasizing the importance of understanding female migration experiences, this paper contributes to the broader literature on migration and gender.


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