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Competition in the Promised Land: Black Migration and Racial Wage Convergence in the North, 1940–1970

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  • Boustan, Leah Platt

Abstract

Four million blacks left the South from 1940 to 1970, doubling the northern black workforce. I exploit variation in migrant flows within skill groups over time to estimate the elasticity of substitution by race. I then use this estimate to calculate counterfactual rates of wage growth. I find that black wages in the North would have been around 7 percent higher in 1970 if not for the migrant influx, while white wages would have remained unchanged. On net, migration was an avenue for black economic advancement, but the migration created both winners and losers.
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Suggested Citation

  • Boustan, Leah Platt, 2009. "Competition in the Promised Land: Black Migration and Racial Wage Convergence in the North, 1940–1970," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 755-782, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:69:y:2009:i:03:p:755-782_00
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    1. Heckman, James J & Payner, Brook S, 1989. "Determining the Impact of Federal Antidiscrimination Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks: A Study of South Carolina," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 138-177, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Mulholland, Sean E. & Hernandez-Julian, Rey, 2013. "Does Economic Freedom Lead to Selective Migration By Education?," Journal of Regional Analysis and Policy, Mid-Continent Regional Science Association, vol. 43(1).
    2. repec:spr:demogr:v:54:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s13524-017-0625-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ran Abramitzky & Leah Boustan, 2017. "Immigration in American Economic History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1311-1345, December.
    4. William J. Collins & Marianne H. Wanamaker, 2014. "Selection and Economic Gains in the Great Migration of African Americans: New Evidence from Linked Census Data," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 220-252, January.
    5. Susanne Prantl & Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2013. "Interacting Product and Labor Market Regulation and the Impact of Immigration on Native Wages," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_22, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    6. Teresa Ghilarducci & Michael Papadopoulos & Siavash Radpour, 2017. "Relative Wages in Aging America: The Baby Boomer Effect," SCEPA working paper series. SCEPA's main areas of research are macroeconomic policy, inequality and poverty, and globalization. 2017-03, Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis (SCEPA), The New School.
    7. Natasha Rivers & Richard Wright & Mark Ellis, 2015. "The Great Recession and the Migration Redistribution of Blacks and Whites in the U.S. South," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 611-630, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • N22 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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