Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login

The Complexion Gap: The Economic Consequences of Color among Free African Americans in the Rural Antebellum South

Contents:

Author Info

  • Howard Bodenhorn

Abstract

Historians of U.S. race relations typically portray southern whites as reluctant to recognize or act favorably upon complexion-based differences within the African American community. Historians contend that mixed-race African Americans (mulattoes) received few advantages as a result of their partly white heritage. This paper shows that a there was a distinct complexion gap in late antebellum America. Mulatto men were more likely than black men to own farms or operate them as tenants, whereas black men were more likely to find employment as farm laborers throughout their lives. Quantile regressions also reveal a complexion gap in wealth accumulation. Mulattoes acquired more property than blacks, particularly at the upper end of the wealth distribution. Thus, an analysis of data included in the 1860 census implies a complex social hierarchy based on subtle gradations in skin color. At the upper end of the wealth distribution, light-complected mulattoes demonstrated a greater propensity to socioeconomic advancement than dark-complected blacks.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8957.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8957.

as in new window
Length:
Date of creation: May 2002
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Kauffman, Kyle D. (ed.) Advances in agricultural economic history. Volume 2. Amsterdam, New York and London: Elsevier Science, JAI, 2003.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8957

Note: DAE
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Email:
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Koenker,Roger, 2005. "Quantile Regression," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521608275, October.
  2. Claudia Goldin & Hugh Rockoff, 1992. "Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold92-1.
  3. Koenker, Roger W & Bassett, Gilbert, Jr, 1978. "Regression Quantiles," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(1), pages 33-50, January.
  4. Bodenhorn, Howard, 1999. "A Troublesome Caste: Height and Nutrition of Antebellum Virginia's Rural Free Blacks," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 972-996, December.
  5. Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "Commentary : the distribution of income in industrialized countries," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 33-48.
  6. Ignazio Visco, 1998. "Commentary : the distribution of income in industrialized countries," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 49-57.
  7. Conley, Timothy G. & Galenson, David W., 1998. "Nativity and Wealth in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Cities," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 468-493, June.
  8. John Komlos, 1992. "Toward an Anthropometric History of African-Americans: The Case of the Free Blacks in Antebellum Maryland," NBER Chapters, in: Strategic Factors in Nineteenth Century American Economic History: A Volume to Honor Robert W. Fogel, pages 297-329 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Richard H. Steckel & Roderick Floud, 1997. "Health and Welfare during Industrialization," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stec97-1.
  10. Reid, Joseph Jr., 1976. "Antebellum southern rental contracts," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 69-83, January.
  11. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1999. "The Returns to Skill in the United States across the Twentieth Century," NBER Working Papers 7126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Roland G. Fryer, Jr & Lisa Kahn & Steven D. Levitt & Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2008. "The Plight of Mixed Race Adolescents," NBER Working Papers 14192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher S. Ruebeck, 2003. "The Economics of Identity and the Endogeneity of Race," NBER Working Papers 9962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Howard Bodenhorn, 2006. "Urban Poverty, School Attendance, and Adolescent Labor Force Attachment: Some Historical Evidence," NBER Working Papers 12043, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Maloney, Thomas N. & Carson, Scott Alan, 2008. "Living standards in Black and White: Evidence from the heights of Ohio Prison inmates, 1829-1913," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 237-251, July.
  5. Howard Bodenhorn & Christopher Ruebeck, 2007. "Colourism and African–american wealth: evidence from the nineteenth-century south," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 20(3), pages 599-620, July.
  6. Canaday, Neil, 2008. "The accumulation of property by southern blacks and whites: Individual-level evidence from a South Carolina cotton county, 1910-1919," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 51-75, January.
  7. Howard Bodenhorn, 2006. "Single Parenthood and Childhood Outcomes in the Mid-Nineteenth Century Urban South," NBER Working Papers 12056, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Mason, Patrick L., 2009. "Identity matters: inter- and intra-racial disparity and labor market outcomes," MPRA Paper 17496, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Kwabena Gyimah-Brempong & Gregory N. Price, 2006. "Crime and Punishment: And Skin Hue Too?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 246-250, May.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8957. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.