Airlifting Yemeni Jews

Here is a new paper:

This paper estimates the effect of the childhood environment on a large
array of social and economic outcomes lasting almost 60 years, for both
the affected cohorts and for their children. To do this, we exploit a
natural experiment provided by the 1949 Magic Carpet operation, where
over 50,000 Yemenite immigrants were airlifted to Israel. The
Yemenites, who lacked any formal schooling or knowledge of a
western-style culture or bureaucracy, believed that they were being
"redeemed," and put their trust in the Israeli authorities to make
decisions about where they should go and what they should do. As a
result, they were scattered across the country in essentially a random
fashion, and as we show, the environmental conditions faced by
immigrant children were not correlated with other factors that affected
the long-term outcomes of individuals. We construct three summary
measures of the childhood environment: 1) whether the home had running
water, sanitation and electricity; 2) whether the locality of residence
was in an urban environment with a good economic infrastructure; and 3)
whether the locality of residence was a Yemenite enclave. We find that
children who were placed in a good environment (a home with good
sanitary conditions, in a city, and outside of an ethnic enclave) were
more likely to achieve positive long-term outcomes. They were more
likely to obtain higher education, marry at an older age, have fewer
children, work at age 55, be more assimilated into Israeli society, be
less religious, and have more worldly tastes in music and food. These
effects are much more pronounced for women than for men. We find weaker
and somewhat mixed effects on health outcomes, and no effect on
political views. We do find an effect on the next generation – children
who lived in a better environment grew up to have children who achieved
higher educational attainment.

Here is an ungated version.


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