Faith and Assimilation: Italian Immigrants in the U.S.
Speaker(s)Stefano Gagliarducci (Tor Vergata University of Rome, Italy)
LocationErasmus University Rotterdam, Campus Woudestein, Polak 2-14
Date and time
October 31, 2022
11:30 - 12:30
How do ethnic religious organizations influence immigrants’ assimilation in host societies? This paper offers the first systematic answer to this question by focusing on Italian Catholic churches in the US between 1890 and 1920, when four million Italians moved to America, and anti-Catholic sentiments were widespread. Using newly digitized data from the Catholic directories, we exploit plausibly exogenous variation in the timing of arrival of Italian Catholic churches across US counties. We find that Italian churches reduced the social assimilation of Italian immigrants, lowering intermarriage, residential integration, and naturalization rates. We provide evidence that stronger coordination within the Italian community and natives' backlash and negative stereotyping can explain these effects. Despite the reduction in Italians' social assimilation, Italian churches had ambiguous effects on immigrants' economic outcomes, and increased children's literacy and ability to speak English. Joint paper with M. Tabellini.
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