The large-scale persecution of European Jews during the Second World War generated massive refugee movements. We study the last wave of Holocaust refugees with a newly compiled dataset of mostly Jewish passengers from several European countries traveling from Lisbon to New York between 1940 and 1942. We find that both refugee and non-refugee passengers were positively selected, but non-refugees were even more so, suggesting it was predominantly the European elite who escaped the Holocaust during this period. In spite of the unique circumstances of this historical setting, this episode of migration displays well-known selection features: both refugees and non-refugees are positively selected, and earlier passengers are more positively selected than later passengers, and economic barriers to migration apply.
Escaping Europe: Health and Human Capital of Holocaust Refugees