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When the Levee Breaks: Black Migration and Economic Development in the American South

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  • Richard Hornbeck
  • Suresh Naidu

Abstract

In the American South, post-bellum economic stagnation has been partially attributed to white landowners' access to low-wage black labor; indeed, Southern economic convergence from 1940 to 1970 was associated with substantial black out-migration. This paper examines the impact of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 on agricultural development. Flooded counties experienced an immediate and persistent out-migration of black population. Over time, landowners in flooded counties dramatically mechanized and modernized agricultural production relative to landowners in nearby similar non-flooded counties. Landowners resisted black out-migration, however, benefiting from the status quo system of labor-intensive agricultural production.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18296.

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Date of creation: Aug 2012
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Publication status: published as Richard Hornbeck & Suresh Naidu, 2014. "When the Levee Breaks: Black Migration and Economic Development in the American South," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(3), pages 963-90, March.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18296

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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. “When the Levee Breaks: Black Migration and Economic Development in the American South,” R. Hornbeck and S. Naidu (2012)
    by afinetheorem in A Fine Theorem on 2012-10-01 09:32:07
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Cited by:
  1. Christoph Eder, 2014. "Missing Men: World War II Casualties and Structural Change," NRN working papers 2014-03, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  2. Philipp Ager, 2013. "The Persistence of de Facto Power: Elites and Economic Development in the US South, 1840-1960," Working Papers 0038, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
  3. Patrick M. Kline & Enrico Moretti, 2013. "Local Economic Development, Agglomeration Economies, and the Big Push: 100 Years of Evidence from the Tennessee Valley Authority," NBER Working Papers 19293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ganong, Peter & Shoag, Daniel, 2012. "Why Has Regional Convergence in the U.S. Stopped?," Working Paper Series rwp12-028, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  5. Ganong, Peter Nathan & Shoag, Daniel W, 2012. "Why Has Regional Convergence in the U.S. Stopped?," Scholarly Articles 9361381, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  6. Morgan Kelly & Joel Mokyr & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2013. "Precocious Albion: a New Interpretation of the British Industrial Revolution," Working Papers 201311, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.

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