DP13046 | Gravity and Migration before Railways: Evidence from Parisian Prostitutes and Revolutionaries

Publication Date

07/13/2018

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Abstract

Abstract Although urban growth historically depended on large inflows of migrants, little is known of the process of migration in the era before railways. Here we use detailed data for Paris on women arrested for prostitution in the 1760s, or registered as prostitutes in the 1830s and 1850s; and of men holding identity cards or joining the army in the 1790s, to examine patterns of female and male migration. We supplement these with data on all women and men buried in 1833. We find that distance was a stronger deterrent to female migration than to male (consistent with more limited employment opportunities for women) that falls with the appearance of railways. Migration was highest from areas of high living standards, measured by literacy rates, with the largest impact again for women, especially those from higher social classes.