Paesani versus paisanos: The Relative Failure of Spanish Immigrants in Buenos Aires during the Age of Mass Migration

Abstract: Millions of immigrants chose Argentina as the land of opportunity during the era of mass migration. Two immigrant groups, Italian and Spanish, dominated the immigration flows. Despite higher literacy and a common language, Spaniards fared worse when compared to Italians in Buenos Aires. By 1895, Italians enjoyed higher wages. What explains their differential paths in the city of Buenos Aires? This study finds that the Italian community capitalized on pre-existing cultural traditions to establish denser and more effective networks to match their compatriots with economic opportunities. The more individualistic Spanish were unable to keep pace, despite their initial cultural, linguistic, and educational advantages.