Those who stayed: Cultural consequences of the Age of Mass Migration

Det här är ett gästinlägg av Anne Sofie Beck Knudsen, forskare vid Ekonomisk-historiska institutionen vid Lunds universitet.


During the Age of Mass Migration (1850-1920) around a quarter of the Scandinavian populations left to settle New World countries like the United States. The Scandinavian emigration rates were among the highest in the world. In a new working paper I show that these emigrants were of a stronger individualistic spirit than their neighbors who stayed at home. This confirms a well-known hypothesis that people with individualistic cultural values find it easier to say goodbye and abandon existing social networks, because they place a lower value on these.

Furthermore, I find that the mass migration of especially individualistic people changed the composition of the Scandinavian populations in a way that had significant cultural consequences, both then and now. This is due to individualistic traits being passed on from generation to generation, especially within the family, which I show in another paper. Denmark, Sweden, and Norway would thus have been considerably more individualistic and culturally diverse had the waves of mass emigration not taken place.

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