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Dust Bowl Migrants: Identifying an Archetype

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  • Richard Hornbeck

Abstract

The 1930's American Dust Bowl created archetypal "Dust Bowl migrants," refugees from environmental collapse and economic upheaval. I examine this archetype, comparing migration from more-eroded counties and less-eroded counties to distinguish Dust Bowl migrants from other migrants in this era. Migrants from more-eroded counties were more "negatively selected," in years of education, than other migrants who were "positively selected." These Dust Bowl migrants struggled economically, especially in California. Despite migrants' struggles, however, I estimate strikingly modest impacts of the Dust Bowl on average incomes that contrast with its enduring impacts on agricultural land.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Hornbeck, 2020. "Dust Bowl Migrants: Identifying an Archetype," NBER Working Papers 27656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:27656
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Leah Platt Boustan & Matthew E. Kahn & Paul W. Rhode, 2012. "Moving to Higher Ground: Migration Response to Natural Disasters in the Early Twentieth Century," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(3), pages 238-244, May.
    2. Tatyana Deryugina & Laura Kawano & Steven Levitt, 2018. "The Economic Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Its Victims: Evidence from Individual Tax Returns," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(2), pages 202-233, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Bryan Stuart & Evan Taylor, 2017. "Migration Networks and Location Decisions: Evidence from U.S. Mass Migration," Working Papers 2017-26, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    5. Yannay Spitzer & Gaspare Tortorici & Ariell Zimran, 2020. "International Migration Responses to Natural Disasters: Evidence from Modern Europe's Deadliest Earthquake," NBER Working Papers 27506, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N32 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-
    • N52 - Economic History - - Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Extractive Industries - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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