The Impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act on U.S. Economic Development

Nancy Qian - Northwestern University
Wed, Apr 3 2024, 3:30pm - 5:00pm PDT
Landau 351 and Zoom

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This paper studies the impact of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act on the economic development of the western United States. The ban of Chinese immigrants reduced the total number and the skill composition of Chinese workers. The decline in labor supply was driven by manufacturing, railroad and mining. It had similar negative effects on other workers, including native-born white workers and European immigrants, the intended beneficiaries of Chinese Exclusion. The Act also reduced manufacturing output, productivity and the number of manufacturing establishments. The adverse economic effects were long-lasting and persisted until at least 1940.