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SKILL SELECTIVITY IN TRANSATLANTIC MIGRATION: THE CASE OF CANARY ISLANDERS IN CUBA*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2015

Dácil Juif
Affiliation:
University of Wageningen

Abstract

The skill composition of European migrants to the New World and their contribution to the human capital and institutional formation in destination countries are popular topics in economic history. This study assesses the skill composition of 19th century transatlantic migrants to Cuba. It finds that nearly half of the European immigrants originate from the Spanish province of the Canary Islands, which displays the lowest literacy and numeracy rates of Spain. Even within this province, those who left belonged to the least skilled section of the population. By promoting the influx of a cheap and poorly educated white workforce that replaced African slaves on their sugar estates, large landowners in Cuba contributed to the perpetuation of high economic, political and social inequality.

Resumen

La selección educacional de los migrantes europeos al Nuevo Mundo y su contribución al capital humano y a la formación institucional en los países de destino son temas de gran interés en la historia económica. Este estudio contribuye a este debate mediante el análisis de las capacidades numéricas (numeracy) de los migrantes del siglo diecinueve hacia Cuba. Se prestará especial atención al grupo de migrantes canario. Casi la mitad de los inmigrantes europeos en Cuba procede de esta provincia española que exhibe las tasas de alfabetización y de «numeracy» más bajas de España. Este artículo sostiene que los terratenientes cubanos promovieron la inmigración de una mano de obra blanca de bajo coste y sin educación para reemplazar a los esclavos africanos en sus plantaciones de azúcar, lo cual contribuyó a perpetuar un sistema que promueve la desigualdad.

Type
Articles/Artículos
Copyright
© Instituto Figuerola, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, 2015 

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Footnotes

*

The author wishes to thank Joerg Baten, Ewout Frankema, Jop Woltjer, Rima Ghanem, Franziska Tollnek, Christina Mumme, Linda Twrdek and two anonymous referees for their valuable comments. Financial support of the Dutch Science Foundation is also gratefully acknowledged.

a

Department of Rural & Environmental History, Hollandseweg 1, Building 201, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands. E-mail: dacil.juif@wur.nl.

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