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Up from Slavery? African American Intergenerational Economic Mobility Since 1880

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  • William J. Collins
  • Marianne H. Wanamaker

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • William J. Collins & Marianne H. Wanamaker, 2017. "Up from Slavery? African American Intergenerational Economic Mobility Since 1880," NBER Working Papers 23395, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23395 Note: DAE LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bruce Sacerdote, 2005. "Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 217-234, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Samuel Bazzi & Martin Fiszbein & Mesay Gebresilasse, 2017. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of “Rugged Individualism†in the United States," Boston University - Department of Economics - Working Papers Series WP2018-004, Boston University - Department of Economics.
    2. Bazzi, Samuel & Fiszbein, Martin & Gebresilasse, Mesay, 2017. "Frontier Culture: The Roots and Persistence of Rugged Individualism in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 12406, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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