Using novel data on 50,000 Norwegian men, we study the effect of wealth on the probability of internal or international migration during the Age of Mass Migration (1850–1913), a time when the US maintained an open border to European immigrants. We do so by exploiting variation in parental wealth and in expected inheritance by birth order, gender composition of siblings, and region. We find that wealth discouraged migration in this era, suggesting that the poor could be more likely to move if migration restrictions were lifted today. We discuss the implications of these historical findings to developing countries.
Have the poor always been less likely to migrate? Evidence from inheritance practices during the age of mass migration