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

  • Richard Hornbeck
  • Suresh Naidu

In the American South, post-bellum economic development may have been restricted in part by white landowners' access to low-wage black labor. This paper examines the impact of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 on black out-migration and subsequent agricultural development. Flooded counties experienced an immediate and persistent out-migration of black population. Over time, landowners in flooded counties modernized agricultural production and increased its capital intensity 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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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 104 (2014)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 963-90

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:104:y:2014:i:3:p:963-90
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.104.3.963
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