This is a job market seminar organized for selected candidates from the European Job Market.
Despite massive migration flows in the past century, their long-term consequences for the communities of origin remain largely unexplored. This paper examines the impact of mass emigration on human capital accumulation over a century. The context is the Galician diaspora, one of the greatest emigration episodes of the twentieth century in Europe. I combine newly digitized data from multiple historical sources with contemporary administrative and survey data to build a unique database of all Galician municipalities from 1860 until today. I use data on absent men as a novel proxy for emigration that I instrument with two sources of plausibly exogenous variation: pioneer emigration caused by extreme rainfall and the economic cycle at migrants’ destinations. I find that while emigration depressed literacy rates at origin in the short run, one decade later the impact became positive and led to persistent gains in human capital. I provide empirical evidence that these long-run effects are partly due to migrants’ investments at origin and a cultural change. Migrants financed the construction of hundreds of schools in their hometowns that subsequently raised educational attainment. Similarly, emigrants realized that education was of major importance and transmitted these norms back home leading to a persistent change in beliefs about the value of education and effort.