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Health, Human Capital, and African American Migration Before 1910

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  • Trevon D. Logan

Abstract

This is the first paper to document the effect of health on the migration propensities of African Americans in the American past. 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Trevon D. Logan, 2008. "Health, Human Capital, and African American Migration Before 1910," NBER Working Papers 14037, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14037
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    Cited by:

    1. Collins, William J. & Wanamaker, Marianne H., 2015. "The Great Migration in Black and White: New Evidence on the Selection and Sorting of Southern Migrants," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 75(04), pages 947-992, December.
    2. repec:eee:socmed:v:199:y:2018:i:c:p:77-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.
    4. Margo, Robert A., 2016. "Obama, Katrina, and the Persistence of Racial Inequality," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(02), pages 301-341, June.
    5. Green, Tiffany L. & Hamilton, Tod G., 2013. "Beyond black and white: Color and mortality in post-reconstruction era North Carolina," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 148-159.
    6. Cook, Lisa D., 2011. "Inventing social capital: Evidence from African American inventors, 1843–1930," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 507-518.
    7. Cook, Lisa D. & Logan, Trevon D. & Parman, John M., 2016. "The mortality consequences of distinctively black names," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 114-125.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

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