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Continuous Versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks

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  • John J. Donohue III
  • James Heckman

Abstract

This paper examines the available evidence on the causes of black economic advance in order to assess the contribution of federal policy. Over the period 1920-1990, there were only two periods of relative black economic improvement -- during the 1940s and in the decade following the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the voting Rights Act of 1965, and the institution of the government contracts compliance program. Black migration from the South, a traditional source of economic gains for blacks, almost stopped at about this same time, and recent evidence on the impact of black schooling gains indicates that educational gains cannot explain the magnitude of black economic progress beginning in the mid-1960s.

Suggested Citation

  • John J. Donohue III & James Heckman, 1991. "Continuous Versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," NBER Working Papers 3894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3894
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Charles R. Link & Edward C. Ratledge, 1975. "Social Returns to Quantity and Quality of Education: A Further Statement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 10(1), pages 78-89.
    2. George E. Johnson & Frank P. Stafford, 1973. "Social Returns to Quantity and Quality of Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(2), pages 139-155.
    3. Charles Brown, 1981. "The Federal Attack on Labor Market Discrimination: The Mouse that Roared?," NBER Working Papers 0669, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Heckman, James J & Payner, Brook S, 1989. "Determining the Impact of Federal Antidiscrimination Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks: A Study of South Carolina," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 138-177, March.
    5. Gregory J. Ahart, 1976. "A Process Evaluation of the Contract Compliance Program in Nonconstruction Industry," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 29(4), pages 565-571, July.
    6. Donald Dewey, 1952. "Negro Employment in Southern Industry," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60, pages 279-279.
    7. Morris Goldstein & Robert S. Smith, 1976. "The Estimated Impact of the Antidiscrimination Program Aimed at Federal Contractors," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 29(4), pages 523-543, July.
    8. Greg J. Duncan & Saul D. Hoffman, 1983. "A New Look at the Causes of the Improved Economic Status of Black Workers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 18(2), pages 268-282.
    9. James J. Heckman, 1989. "The Impact of Government on the Economic Status of Black Americans," NBER Working Papers 2860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Margo, Robert A, 1986. "Race and Human Capital: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(5), pages 1221-1224, December.
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