Up from Poverty? The 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery and the Long-run Distribution of Wealth
AbstractThe state of Georgia allocated most of its land to the public through a system of lotteries. These episodes provide unusual opportunities to assess the long-term impact of large shocks to wealth, as winning was uncorrelated with individual characteristics and participation was nearly universal among the eligible population of adult white male Georgians. We use one of these episodes to examine the idea that the lower tail of the wealth distribution reflects in part a wealth-based poverty trap because of limited access to capital. Using wealth measured in the 1850 Census manuscripts, we follow up on a sample of men eligible to win in the 1832 Cherokee Land Lottery. We assess the impact of lottery winning on the distribution of wealth 18 years after the fact. Winners are on average richer (by an amount close to the median of 1850 wealth), but mainly due to a (net) shifting of mass from the middle to the upper tail of the wealth distribution. The lower tail is largely unaffected.
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Date of creation: Jun 2013
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
- I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
- J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
- J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
- N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
- O15 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-07-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEM-2013-07-05 (Demographic Economics)
- NEP-HIS-2013-07-05 (Business, Economic & Financial History)
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