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Accumulation of Property by Southern Blacks before World War I: Comment and Further Evidence

  • Margo, Robert A

The pace and pattern of wealth accumulation by Southern blacks in the period before World War I is of central importance to the historical evolution of black/white income differences. This paper extends recent work by Robert Higgs, who used data on assessed wealth for Georgia to study the temporal and cross-sectional variation in black wealth accumulation during the post-bellum era. Using similar data for five additional states, I show that one of Higgs' principal conclusions -- measured by tax assessments, blacks accumulated wealth more rapidly than whites -- is a general finding, but that the cross-sectional determinants of black wealth appear to have varied markedly across states. Issues of assessment ratio bias are also considered, and using data for one state, I demonstrate that failure to account for intrastate and race differences in assessment ratios may bias the cross-sectional findings and significantly overstate the true relative (black/white) growth rate of black wealth.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 74 (1984)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 768-76

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:74:y:1984:i:4:p:768-76
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