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The Labor Market Effects of the 1960s Riots

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  • Williams J. Collins
  • Robert A. Margo

Abstract

Between 1964 and 1971, hundreds of riots erupted in American cities, resulting in large numbers of injuries, deaths, and arrests, as well as in considerable property damage that was concentrated in predominantly black neighborhoods. There have been few studies of a systematic, econometric nature that examine the impact of the riots on the relative economic status of African Americans, or on the cities and neighborhoods in which the riots took. We present two complementary empirical analyses. The first uses aggregate, city-level data on income, employment, unemployment, and the area’s racial composition from the published volumes of the federal censuses. We estimate the “riot effect” by both ordinary least squares and two-stage least squares. The second empirical approach uses individual-level census data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series for 1950, 1970, and 1980. The findings suggest that the riots had negative effects on blacks’ income and employment that were economically significant and that may have been larger in the long run (1960-1980) than in the short run (1960- 1970). We view these findings as suggestive rather than definitive for two reasons. First, the data are not detailed enough to identify the precise mechanisms at work. Second, the wave of riots may have had negative spillover effects to cities that did not experience severe riots; if so, we would tend to underestimate the riots’ overall effect.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard - Institute of Economic Research in its series Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers with number 2026.

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Date of creation: 2003
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Handle: RePEc:fth:harver:2026

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  1. Cutler, David M & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-72, August.
  2. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  3. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, . "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Zell/Lurie Center Working Papers, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania 382, Wharton School Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center, University of Pennsylvania.
  4. DiPasquale, Denise & Glaeser, Edward L., 1998. "The Los Angeles Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 52-78, January.
  5. Collins, William J. & Margo, Robert A., 2000. "Residential segregation and socioeconomic outcomes: When did ghettos go bad?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 239-243, November.
  6. William Poole, 2000. "Expectations," Speech, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis 65, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
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Cited by:
  1. Francesco Passarelli & Guido Tabellini, 2013. "Emotions and Political Unrest," CESifo Working Paper Series 4165, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Miguel, Edward & Roland, Gérard, 2011. "The long-run impact of bombing Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 1-15, September.
  3. Jaideep Gupte & Patricia Justino & Jean-Pierre Tranchant, 2012. "Households amidst urban riots: The economic consequences of civil violence in India," HiCN Working Papers 126, Households in Conflict Network.
  4. Orley Ashenfelter & William J. Collins & Albert Yoon, 2005. "Evaluating the Role of Brown vs. Board of Education in School Equalization, Desegregation, and the Income of African Americans," NBER Working Papers 11394, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Collins, William J. & Smith, Fred H., 2007. "A neighborhood-level view of riots, property values, and population loss: Cleveland 1950-1980," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 365-386, July.
  6. David Card & Alexandre Mas & Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "Tipping and the Dynamics of Segregation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 123(1), pages 177-218, 02.

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