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Development cycles, political regimes and international migration: Argentina in the 20th century

January 2003 | Macroeconomics of Development
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  • NU. CEPAL. División de Desarrollo Económico
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43 p. : diagrs., tabls.
Macroeconomics of Development
  • ECLAC Series
    • Macroeconomics of Development


At the turn, of the twentieth century, a large number of Europeans -mainly Italians and Spaniards- left their homelands and headed to the distant southern shores of Argentina responding to the good economic opportunities, fertile land and a better future that were to be found in this country, at the time one of the most vibrant world economies. Around 7 million people migrated from Europe to Argentina between 1870 and 1930, although near 3 million returned back at different point in time during those years. Also foreign capital responded to the opportunities opened in Argentina and British financial institutions funded an important part of the construction of national infrastructure needed to support growth. In contrast, since the 1950s, European migration to Argentina virtually stopped and the country become in the next 30 years or so a net exporter of professionals, scientists, intellectuals that were flying economic decline, poor opportunities and authoritarian regimes. Moreover, during this period, financial capital steadily left Argentina looking for safer places. Nowadays, and in the reversed direction of a century ago, Argentineans are leaving in large numbers to Spain, Italy and other destinations. This time, emigration is associated with the collapse of the country's currency experiment of the 1990s -the convertibility board and its ensuing short lived prosperity- that left a legacy of massive output decline, high unemployment, financial crisis and lost hopes. This paper investigates the main patterns of internationalmigration to and from Argentina in the twentieth century. The study examines the effects of relative income differentials, persistence effects, economic cycles and political regimes on net migration estimating econometrically a net migration model for Argentina using time series data for the twentieth century.

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