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Was Postwar Suburbanization "White Flight"? Evidence from the Black Migration


  • Leah Platt Boustan


Residential segregation by jurisdiction generates disparities in public services and education. The distinctive American pattern - in which blacks live in cities and whites in suburbs - was enhanced by a large black migration from the rural South. I show that whites responded to this black influx by leaving cities and rule out an indirect effect on housing prices as a sole cause. I instrument for changes in black population by using local economic conditions to predict black migration from southern states and assigning predicted flows to northern cities according to established settlement patterns. The best causal estimates imply that each black arrival led to 2.7 white departures.

Suggested Citation

  • Leah Platt Boustan, 2007. "Was Postwar Suburbanization "White Flight"? Evidence from the Black Migration," NBER Working Papers 13543, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13543
    Note: DAE LS

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Karen A. Kopecky & Richard M. H. Suen, 2010. "A Quantitative Analysis Of Suburbanization And The Diffusion Of The Automobile," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 51(4), pages 1003-1037, November.
    2. Albert Saiz & Susan Wachter, 2011. "Immigration and the Neighborhood," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 169-188, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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