Does mass immigration destroy institutions? 1990s Israel as a natural experiment

Benjamin Powell, J. R. Clark, Alex Nowrasteh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The relaxation of emigration restrictions in the Soviet Union and the State's subsequent collapse led to a large exogenous shock to Israel's immigrant flows because Israel allows unrestricted immigration for world-wide Jews. Israel's population increased by 20% in the 1990s due to immigration from the former Soviet Union. These immigrants did not bring social capital that eroded the quality of Israel's institutional environment. We find that economic institutions’ improved substantially over the decade. Our synthetic control methodology indicates that it is likely that the institutions improvement would not have occurred to the same degree without the mass migration. Our case study indicates that immigrant participation in the political process is the main mechanism through which the migration caused institutional change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-95
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Economic freedom
  • Immigration
  • Institutions
  • Israel


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