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The New Promised Land: Black-White Convergence in the American South, 1960-2000

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  • Jacob L. Vigdor

Abstract

The black-white earnings gap has historically been larger in the South than in other regions of the United States. Since 1970, however, the male annual earnings gap outside the South has increased %u2013 dramatically, when the analysis factors in non-participants %u2013 while the gap within the South has narrowed, to the point where 2000 Census figures indicate significantly lower racial inequality in the South. Three proposed explanations for this trend focus on changing patterns of selective migration, labor market trends including reduced discrimination and the decline of manufacturing employment, and reductions in school segregation and school resource disparities in the South relative to the North. Evidence suggests that selective migration can explain about 40% of the South%u2019s relative advance, and virtually all of the relative advance after 1980. Earlier declines can be attributed in large part to reduced industrial segregation and other labor market advances in the South. Relative improvements in school quality for Southern blacks explain at most 20% of the overall trend.

Suggested Citation

  • Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "The New Promised Land: Black-White Convergence in the American South, 1960-2000," NBER Working Papers 12143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12143
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Card, David & Rothstein, Jesse, 2007. "Racial segregation and the black-white test score gap," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2158-2184, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chay, Kenneth Y. & Guryan, Jonathan & Mazumder, Bhashkar, 2014. "Early Life Environment and Racial Inequality in Education and Earnings in the United States," Working Paper Series WP-2014-28, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    2. Patrick Bayer & Kerwin Kofi Charles, 2016. "Divergent Paths: Structural Change, Economic Rank, and the Evolution of Black-White Earnings Differences, 1940-2014," NBER Working Papers 22797, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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