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Shocking Behavior : Random Wealth in Antebellum Georgia and Human Capital Across Generations

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  • Hoyt Bleakley
  • Joseph P. Ferrie

Abstract

Does the lack of wealth constrain parents' investments in the human capital of their descendants? We conduct a fifty-year followup of an episode in which such constraints would have been plausibly relaxed by a random allocation of wealth to families. We track descendants of those eligible to win in Georgia's Cherokee Land Lottery of 1832, which had nearly universal participation among adult white males. Winners received close to the median level of wealth - a large financial windfall orthogonal to parents' underlying characteristics that might have also affected their children's human capital. Although winners had slightly more children than non-winners, they did not send them to school more. Sons of winners have no better adult outcomes (wealth, income, literacy) than the sons of non-winners, and winners' grandchildren do not have higher literacy or school attendance than non-winners' grandchildren. This suggests only a limited role for family financial resources in the transmission of human capital across generations and a potentially more important role for other factors that persist through family lines.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoyt Bleakley & Joseph P. Ferrie, 2013. "Shocking Behavior : Random Wealth in Antebellum Georgia and Human Capital Across Generations," NBER Working Papers 19348, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19348
    Note: CH DAE DEV LS
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    Cited by:

    1. Rossi, Martín A., 2014. "The impact of individual wealth on posterior political power," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 469-480.
    2. Martha Bailey & Connor Cole & Morgan Henderson & Catherine Massey, 2017. "How Well Do Automated Methods Perform in Historical Samples? Evidence from New Ground Truth," NBER Working Papers 24019, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Kerris Cooper & Kitty Stewart, 2017. "Does Money Affect Children’s Outcomes? An update," CASE Papers /203, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.
    4. J. David Hacker, 2016. "Ready, Willing, and Able? Impediments to the Onset of Marital Fertility Decline in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(6), pages 1657-1692, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • N11 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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