Understanding the Success of the Know-Nothing Party
We digitize several censuses to develop exposure measures of shocks to labor supply and demand as well as measures of Irish assimilation and the fiscal burden associated with foreign-born paupers. We find labor market crowd-out from the Irish is positively correlated with Know-Nothing vote shares. Yet, industrialization and associated deskilling of the labor force was as important. These two forces played a decisive role in some, but not all, years of the Know-Nothing’s electoral success and stronghold locations were unaffected by both. Lastly, we find migration and occupational upgrading partially offset the negative association between Irish labor crowd-out and the evolution of wealth for native-born men
Discussant: David Bateman is associate professor of Government at Cornell University.
Katherine Eriksson is associate professor in the department of Economics at UC Davis.