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European emigration 1815-1930. Looking at the emigration decision again

Department of Economic History, London School of Economics and Political Science
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  • Hc Economic History And Conditions
  • D901 Europe (General)
  • Jv Colonies And Colonization. Emigration And Immigration. International Migration
  • D204 Modern History
  • History


lS( London School of Economics & Political Science WORKING PAPERS IN ECONOMIC HISTORY EUROPEAN EMIGRATION 1815-1930. LOOKING AT THE EMIGRATION DECISION AGAIN Dudley Baines Number: 5/92 June 1992 Working Paper No. 5/92 European Emigration 1815-1930. Looking at the emigration decision again. Dudley Balnes C Dudley Baines, Economic History Department, London School of Economics. June 1992 Versions of this paper were given at seminars at the LSE, the Institute of Historical Research, Manchester and Liverpool universities, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and at the 1992 Migration Symposium, Historisches Seminar, Hamburg. Criticism and suggestions from participants are gratefully acknowledged. Dudley Baines Department of Economic History London School of Economics Houghton Street London WC2A 2AE United Kingdom Phone: +44 (0)71 955 7059 Fax: +44 (0)71 955 7730 Additional copies ofthis working paper are available at a cost of £2.50. Cheques should be made payable to 'Department of Economic History, LSE' and sent to the -Departmental Seaetary at the address above. I More than fifty million people left Europe for overseas destinations between the Napoleonic Wars and the depression of the 19305.1 This paper is concerned with the factors that may have influenced their decision to emigrate.2 The problem is that we have little reliable direct evidence of what is presumably the most important question. Why did people emigrate from Europe overseas in this period? By this we mean why did only some Europeans choose to emigrate and not others? Many important ideas have come from the rigorous study of the letters that passed between the emigrants and their relatives in Europe. But the letters are difficult to interpret. We cannot infer the motives of more than a small number of emigrants from letters.3 And we cannot assume that the letter writers were a sample of all emigrants.· In the absence of reliable direct evidence, historians hav

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