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Up from Slavery? African American Intergenerational Economic Mobility Since 1880

Listed author(s):
  • William J. Collins
  • Marianne H. Wanamaker

We document the intergenerational mobility of black and white American men from 1880 through 2000 by building new datasets to study the late 19th and early 20th century and combining them with modern data to cover the mid- to late 20th century. We find large disparities in intergenerational mobility, with white children having far better chances of escaping the bottom of the distribution than black children in every generation. This mobility gap was more important than the gap in parents’ status in proximately determining each new generation’s racial income gap. Evidence suggests that human capital disparities underpinned the mobility gap.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23395.

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Date of creation: May 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23395
Note: DAE LS
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  4. Solon, Gary, 1999. "Intergenerational mobility in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1761-1800 Elsevier.
  5. Higgs, Robert, 1982. "Accumulation of Property by Southern Blacks before World War I," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 725-737, September.
  6. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. 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.
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  12. 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.
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  16. Ferrie, Joseph P. & Rolf, Karen & Troesken, Werner, 2012. "Cognitive disparities, lead plumbing, and water chemistry: Prior exposure to water-borne lead and intelligence test scores among World War Two U.S. Army enlistees," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 98-111.
  17. Joseph P. Ferrie, 2005. "History Lessons: The End of American Exceptionalism? Mobility in the United States Since 1850," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 199-215, Summer.
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