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Health, human capital, and African-American migration before 1910

  • Logan, Trevon D.

Using both IPUMS and the Colored Troops Sample of the Civil War Union Army Data, I estimate the effects of literacy and health on the migration propensities of African-Americans from 1870 to 1910. I find that literacy and health shocks were strong predictors of migration and the stock of health was not. There were differential selection propensities based on slave status--former slaves were less likely to migrate given a specific health shock than free blacks. Counterfactuals suggest that as much as 35% of the difference in the mobility patterns of former slaves and free blacks is explained by differences in their human capital, and more than 20% of that difference is due to health alone. Overall, the selection effect of literacy on migration is reduced by one-tenth to one-third once health is controlled for. The low levels of human capital accumulation and rates of mobility for African-Americans after the Civil War are partly explained by the poor health status of slaves and their immediate descendants.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 46 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 169-185

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:46:y:2009:i:2:p:169-185
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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