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Syrian-Lebanese and Ottoman Migrants in the USA, 1900 to 1940


Syrian-Lebanese and other Ottoman nationals joined the European migrant routes towards the Americas in the early 20th century. We use US full count census data to investigate the labor market performance of this group of migrants that arrived in the US, and how they fared as compared to US-born individuals and as compared to other migrant groups from Europe.

We use the US full count census data for the years 1900 to 1940. This data is made available by IPUMS- USA (Ruggles et al. 2021). Crosswalk data is available which allows us to connect individuals across census years (Helgertz et al. 2020). Using social security data allows us to connect individuals to their city or town of origin in the Middle East.

We use regression methods to control for the different demographic makeup of each migrant group and of the US-born group. To investigate occupational mobility, we use panel regression methods which allow us to control for time-invariant unobserved characteristics, and to control for selection bias due to return migration. (Abramitzky and Boustan 2017)


  • We compare the labor market outcomes and incomes of Syrian-Lebanese and Turkish immigrant workers and their offspring with their US-born counterparts and with European migrants.
  • We investigate the occupational mobility of these groups.
  • We test how place of birth at the sub-national level affects occupational mobility, occupational choice, and labor market performance.

Research Team

Rami Zalfou, Doctoral Student at CMES and the Department of Economic History (Lund University)

rami [dot] zalfou [at] ekh [dot] lu [dot] se