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Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital

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  • Bruce Sacerdote

Abstract

How much do sins visited upon one generation harm that generation's future sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters? I study this question by comparing outcomes for former slaves and their children and grandchildren to outcomes for free blacks (pre-1865), and their children and grandchildren. The outcome measures include literacy, whether a child attends school, whether a child lives in a female headed household, and two measures of adult occupation. Using a variety of different comparisons, (e.g. within versus across regions) I find that it took roughly two generations for the descendants of slaves to catch up' to the descendants of free black men and women. This finding is consistent with modern estimates and interpretations of father-son correlations in income and socioeconomic status. The data used are from the 1880 and 1920 1 percent (IPUMS) samples, a 100 percent sample of the 1880 Census and a smaller data set in which I link families in the 1920 IPUMS back to the father's family in a 100% sample of the 1880 Census. These latter data sets are derived from an electronic version of the 1880 Census recently compiled and released by the Mormon Church with assistance from the Minnesota Population Center.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9227.

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Date of creation: Sep 2002
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9227

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  1. Robert A. Margo, 1985. "Education Achievement in Segregated School Systems: The Effects of "Separate-But-Equal"," NBER Working Papers 1620, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. William Darity & Jason Dietrich & David K. Guilkey, 2001. "Persistent Advantage or Disadvantage?: Evidence in Support of the Intergenerational Drag Hypothesis," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 435-470, 04.
  3. Smith, James P, 1984. "Race and Human Capital," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 685-98, September.
  4. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Erik Hurst, 2002. "The Correlation of Welath Across Generations," NBER Working Papers 9314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Thomas M. Lyons & James J. Heckman & Petra E. Todd, 2000. "Understanding Black-White Wage Differentials, 1960-1990," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 344-349, May.
  6. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
  7. Angrist, Joshua, 2001. "How Do Sex Ratios Affect Marriage and Labor Markets? Evidence from America's Second Generation," IZA Discussion Papers 368, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Solon, Gary, 1992. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 393-408, June.
  9. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-64, June.
  10. Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Joseph G. Altonji & Thomas A. Dunn, 1991. "Relationships Among the Family Incomes and Labor Market Outcomes of Relatives," NBER Working Papers 3724, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Robert A. Margo, 2002. "The North-South Wage Gap, Before and After the Civil War," NBER Working Papers 8778, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Zimmerman, David J, 1992. "Regression toward Mediocrity in Economic Stature," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 409-29, June.
  14. Bjorklund, Anders & Jantti, Markus, 1997. "Intergenerational Income Mobility in Sweden Compared to the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 1009-18, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico, 2011. "The Evolution of the Racial Gap in Education and the Legacy of Slavery," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 075, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics.
  2. Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico, 2010. "Slavery, Education, and Inequality," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 051, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics.
  3. Alexis León, 2006. "Does Ethnic Capital Matter? Identifying the Role of Ethnic Peer Effects in the Intergenerational Transmission of Ethnic Differentials," Working Papers 289, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Dec 2006.
  4. Bertocchi, Graziella & Dimico, Arcangelo, 2012. "The racial gap in education and the legacy of slavery," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 581-595.
  5. Price, Gregory N. & Darity Jr., William A. & Headen Jr., Alvin E., 2008. "Does the stigma of slavery explain the maltreatment of blacks by whites: The case of lynchings," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 167-193, February.
  6. Soares, Rodrigo R. & Assunção, Juliano J. & Goulart, Tomás F., 2012. "A note on slavery and the roots of inequality," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 565-580.
  7. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Intergenerational economic mobility in the U.S., 1940 to 2000," Working Paper Series WP-05-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  8. Lindahl, Mikael & Palme, Mårten & Sandgren Massih, Sofia & Sjögren, Anna, 2013. "Long-term intergenerational persistence of human capital: an empirical analysis of four generations," Research Papers in Economics 2013:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  9. Ham, Roger & Junankar, Pramod N. (Raja) & Wells, Robert, 2009. "Occupational Choice: Personality Matters," IZA Discussion Papers 4105, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Trevon D. Logan, 2008. "Health, Human Capital, and African American Migration Before 1910," NBER Working Papers 14037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ilyana Kuziemko, 2011. "Human Capital Spillovers in Families: Do Parents Learn from or Lean on their Children?," NBER Working Papers 17235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Leah Platt Boustan & William J. Collins, 2013. "The Origins and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women's Labor Force Participation," NBER Working Papers 19040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Suresh Naidu, 2012. "Suffrage, Schooling, and Sorting in the Post-Bellum U.S. South," NBER Working Papers 18129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Hoyt Bleakley & Dora Costa & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2013. "Health, Education and Income in the United States, 1820-2000," NBER Working Papers 19162, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Sonia Bhalotra & Thomas Pogge, 2012. "Ethical and Economic Perspectives on Global Health Interventions," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 12/286, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.

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