Immigration restriction led to Sex in the City lifestyles for young women.

There is a narrative among the more reactionary and dissident conservatives out there that immigration restriction in America in the 1920s led to a (white) paradise of family wages and happy housewives until 1965.  One of the subtexts of this narrative is that the women were purer and less scandalous because they could easily count on marrying at 18-19 to a 21 year old husband who was already making a middle class income.

Good thing it’s a subtext, because it’s not really real history at all.

As early as 1940, young women were flooding out to live alone, something they pulled ahead of young men in doing by 1960.  After all, nearly half of the supposedly glorious immigration restriction period of American history was the Great Depression.  This gets left out of the “easy middle class income on one salary” reinvention of history.

Prior to immigration restriction, almost nobody (including young men) lived alone.  As immigrants flooded in, boarding and rooming houses accommodated them.  And extended family living was more common even among “nuclear” German and English descent households.  People also labored for room and board and other barter goods rather than wages.

Once the labor pool was restricted, though, the resultant increase in wage work (along with urbanization) allowed even young women to move out and live alone in larger and larger numbers.  The median age of first marriage for white women was around 23 until the 1950s and two decades later had already begun the return back to that level, with the current age of 26 mirroring historical levels from before the late 19th century.  The window of time in which young white American women were barely twenty when they married was a small one historically, hardly a generation in length.

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4 thoughts on “Immigration restriction led to Sex in the City lifestyles for young women.

  1. Sex in the City aside, I suspect that one of the factors that causes young women to be more eager to move out than young men is that a lot of young men experience life in the parental home as a sort of all-inclusive resort, whereas young women often have more extensive domestic responsibilities.

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  2. Yes, this is 100% true.

    With a restricted labor pool, the only thing restraining young women from the endless party is the possibility of pregnancy. Once you have accessible birth control it’s on.

    Therefore anyone who values sexual morality should vote for Bernie Sanders.

    (ha)

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  3. Okay maybe I am missing something here…but how did a restricted labor pool lead the way for young women to leave parental homes?

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