Posted on April 9, 2023

Yet Another Study Shows How Migrants Transplant Their Culture

Jason Richwine, Center for Immigration Studies, April 6, 2023

In his recent book The Culture Transplant, economist Garett Jones argues that “migrants make the economies they move to a lot like the ones they left.” This economic change is part of a broader cultural shift that occurs when immigrants transmit their Old Country values to their descendants in the new land. {snip}

Now a new study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics has added to the transplant literature. It examines how Southern-born whites who moved to other parts of the U.S. influenced the culture in their new homes. {snip}

Remarkably, a non-Southern county’s percentage of migrant white Southerners in 1940 is a strong predictor of the county’s culture in modern times. For example, as a county’s 1940 percentage of white Southern migrants increases, that county is more likely to support Donald Trump, oppose abortion, build evangelical churches, listen to country music, and even favor barbecue chicken over pizza. {snip}

Clearly, Southern migrants were not assimilated into the pre-existing culture of their new homes outside the South. Instead, they transplanted their own culture {snip}

Although cultural persistence is well known, this new paper will put some left-leaning immigration advocates in an awkward position. On one hand, they have a generally unfavorable view of conservative Southerners and may be quick to blame them for spreading what they see as an undesirable culture. On the other hand, some of the same advocates argue that fear of immigrants changing the culture of the U.S. is completely unfounded. {snip}