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Collective Action, White Flight, and the Origins of Formal Segregation Laws

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  • Werner Troesken
  • Randall Walsh

Abstract

This paper develops and tests a simple model to explain the origins of municipal segregation ordinances. Passed by cities between 1909 and 1917, these ordinances prohibited members of the majority racial group on a given city block from selling or renting property to members of another racial group. Our results suggest that prior to these laws cities had created and sustained residential segregation through private norms and vigilante activity. Only when these private arrangements began to break down during the early 1900s did whites start lobbying municipal governments for segregation ordinances.

Suggested Citation

  • Werner Troesken & Randall Walsh, 2017. "Collective Action, White Flight, and the Origins of Formal Segregation Laws," NBER Working Papers 23691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23691
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23691.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Leah Platt Boustan, 2010. "Was Postwar Suburbanization "White Flight"? Evidence from the Black Migration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 417-443.
    2. David Card & Alexandre Mas & Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "Tipping and the Dynamics of Segregation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 177-218.
    3. Jonathan T. Rothwell & Douglas S. Massey, 2010. "Density Zoning and Class Segregation in U.S. Metropolitan Areas," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 91(s1), pages 1123-1143.
    4. Price V. Fishback & Jonathan Rose & Kenneth Snowden, 2013. "Introduction to "Well Worth Saving: How the New Deal Safeguarded Home Ownership"," NBER Chapters, in: Well Worth Saving: How the New Deal Safeguarded Home Ownership, pages 1-8, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    6. Jonathan T. Rothwell, 2011. "Racial Enclaves and Density Zoning: The Institutionalized Segregation of Racial Minorities in the United States," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(1), pages 290-358.
    7. Pritchett, Jonathan B., 1989. "The Burden of Negro Schooling: Tax Incidence and Racial Redistribution in Postbellum North Carolina," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 49(04), pages 966-973, December.
    8. Alston, Lee J & Ferrie, Joseph P, 1993. "Paternalism in Agricultural Labor Contracts in the U.S. South: Implications for the Growth of the Welfare State," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 852-876, September.
    9. Collins, William J. & Margo, Robert A., 2001. "Race and Home Ownership: A Century-Long View," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 68-92, January.
    10. Roback, Jennifer, 1986. "The Political Economy of Segregation: The Case of Segregated Streetcars," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(4), pages 893-917, December.
    11. Alston, Lee J. & Higgs, Robert, 1982. "Contractual Mix in Southern Agriculture since the Civil War: Facts, Hypotheses, and Tests," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 327-353, June.
    12. Price V. Fishback & Jonathan Rose & Kenneth Snowden, 2013. "Well Worth Saving: How the New Deal Safeguarded Home Ownership," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number fish12-1, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. James J. Feigenbaum & Soumyajit Mazumder & Cory B. Smith, 2020. "When Coercive Economies Fail: The Political Economy of the US South After the Boll Weevil," NBER Working Papers 27161, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • K25 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Real Estate Law
    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N92 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • R14 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Land Use Patterns
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

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