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

  • Boustan, Leah Platt

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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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 69 (2009)
Issue (Month): 03 (September)
Pages: 755-782

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:69:y:2009:i:03:p:755-782_00
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  1. Sundstrom, William A., 2007. "The Geography of Wage Discrimination in the Pre Civil Rights South," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(02), pages 410-444, June.
  2. Barro, R.J. & Sala-I-Martin, X., 1991. "Convergence Across States and Regions," Papers 629, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
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  4. 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 138-77, March.
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  14. 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.
  15. Robert A. Margo, 1991. "Segregated Schools and the Mobility Hypothesis: A Model of Local Government Discrimination," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(1), pages 61-73.
  16. Hatton, T.J. & Williamson, J.G., 1992. "What Drove the Mass Migrations from Europe in the Late Ninteenth Century," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1614, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  17. Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Card, David, 2001. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 22-64, January.
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