The late nineteenth and early 20th century transatlantic core of migration business

Earlier or later time periods

South Atlantic migration business

Regions other than transatlantic


In Europe, mass migration became economically and politically important with the emergence of powerful territorially-based states and developments in transportation, communication and industrialization that enabled Europeans to colonize and populate large parts of the rest of the world. “Cross-border migration,” Encyclopedia of Global Business


“Over three quarters of the present-day population of the Western Hemisphere are descended from people who crossed the Atlantic to move there during the last five centuries. This broad, diverse and long-lived human relocation helped to reshape the global economy.

“Atlantic Historic Migrations,” Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration.


“Late nineteenth century Europe’s nautical tentacles famously encircled the globe. The contemporaneous outflow of Europeans was much more narrowly concentrated. Total European migration into India, the “jewel” of Europe’s most global power, Britain, did not exceed two hundred thousand over the course of the nineteenth century. More European migrants arrived at America’s fourth largest port for immigration, Philadelphia, during the 1880s decade alone. Temperate Canada and Argentina were among the world’s most significant migrant destinations, absorbing millions of European settlers during the second half of the nineteenth century, yet the combined intake of these two classic immigration countries was still less than half of that which thronged into New York during the same period.”

Business of Transatlantic Migration, p. 20


“If there is any credence to the oft-cited hyperboles of Calvin Coolidge and Oscar Handlin – that America’s business is business, and its history is immigration – then the history of the business of immigration to the United States ought to be something rather important…Employers, railroads, and travel and labor agents” were “important businesses heavily reliant upon migration [although] they were not indispensable to it in the way that the Atlantic transit was.” Before the 1920s, there was no crossing the Atlantic “except on a ship.” Mass migration across the Atlantic on ships “was an international demographic and ethnographic event of signal importance, involving extensive transformation of ethnic and social identities.. It was also a modern service business in which long distance transportation enterprises, a transnational labor market, sovereign control over border-crossing, and modern mass migration flourished and co-evolved…” Business of Transatlantic Migration, Introduction.