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Racial Segregation and Southern Lynching

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  • Lisa D. Cook
  • Trevon D. Logan
  • John M. Parman

Abstract

The literature on ethnic fractionalization and conflict has not been extended to the American past. In particular, the empirical relationship between racial residential segregation and lynching is unknown. The existing economic, social, and political theories of lynching contain hypotheses about the relationship between racial segregation and racial violence, consistent with theories of social conflict. Since Southern lynching occurred in rural and urban areas, traditional urban measures of racial segregation cannot be used to estimate the relationship. We use a newly developed household-level measure of residential segregation (Logan and Parman 2017), which can distinguish between racial homogeneity of a location and the tendency to racially segregate, to estimate the correlation between racial segregation and lynching in the southern counties of the United States. We find that conditional on racial composition, racially segregated counties were much more likely to experience lynchings. Consistent with the hypothesis that segregation is related to interracial violence, we find that segregation is highly correlated with African American lynching, but uncorrelated with white lynching. These results extend the analysis of racial/ethnic conflict into the past and show that the effects of social interactions and interracial proximity in rural areas are as important as those in urban areas.

Suggested Citation

  • Lisa D. Cook & Trevon D. Logan & John M. Parman, 2017. "Racial Segregation and Southern Lynching," NBER Working Papers 23813, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23813
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrews, Rodney & Casey, Marcus & Hardy, Bradley L. & Logan, Trevon D., 2017. "Location matters: Historical racial segregation and intergenerational mobility," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 158(C), pages 67-72.
    2. 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.
    3. Luna Bellani & Anselm Hager & Stephan E. Maurer, 2020. "The long shadow of slavery: the persistence of slave owners in Southern law-making," CEP Discussion Papers dp1714, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Trevon D. Logan, 2018. "Do Black Politicians Matter?," NBER Working Papers 24190, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Trevon D. Logan, 2019. "Whitelashing: Black Politicians, Taxes, and Violence," NBER Working Papers 26014, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

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

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