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Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital

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  • Bruce Sacerdote

Abstract

How much do sins visited upon one generation harm that generation's future sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters? I study this question by comparing outcomes for former slaves and their children and grandchildren to outcomes for free blacks (pre-1865), and their children and grandchildren. The outcome measures include literacy, whether a child attends school, whether a child lives in a female headed household, and two measures of adult occupation. Using a variety of different comparisons, (e.g. within versus across regions) I find that it took roughly two generations for the descendants of slaves to catch up' to the descendants of free black men and women. This finding is consistent with modern estimates and interpretations of father-son correlations in income and socioeconomic status. The data used are from the 1880 and 1920 1 percent (IPUMS) samples, a 100 percent sample of the 1880 Census and a smaller data set in which I link families in the 1920 IPUMS back to the father's family in a 100% sample of the 1880 Census. These latter data sets are derived from an electronic version of the 1880 Census recently compiled and released by the Mormon Church with assistance from the Minnesota Population Center.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "Slavery and the Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital," NBER Working Papers 9227, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9227
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    9. William Darity & Jason Dietrich & David K. Guilkey, 2001. "Persistent Advantage or Disadvantage?: Evidence in Support of the Intergenerational Drag Hypothesis," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(2), pages 435-470, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Pinger, Pia R., 2016. "Transgenerational effects of childhood conditions on third generation health and education outcomes," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 103-120.
    2. repec:pit:wpaper:289 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Graziella Bertocchi, 2016. "The legacies of slavery in and out of Africa," IZA Journal of Migration and Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-19, December.
    4. Bertocchi, Graziella & Dimico, Arcangelo, 2011. "The Evolution of the Racial Gap in Education and the Legacy of Slavery," IZA Discussion Papers 6192, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Bertocchi, Graziella & Dimico, Arcangelo, 2014. "Slavery, education, and inequality," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 197-209.
    6. Bertocchi, Graziella & Dimico, Arcangelo, 2012. "The racial gap in education and the legacy of slavery," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 581-595.
    7. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Pogge, Thomas, 2012. "Ethical and Economic Perspectives on Global Health Interventions," IZA Policy Papers 38, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Hoyt Bleakley & Joseph Ferrie, 2016. "Shocking Behavior: Random Wealth in Antebellum Georgia and Human Capital Across Generations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(3), pages 1455-1495.
    9. Hoyt Bleakley & Dora Costa & Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2014. "Health, Education, and Income in the United States, 1820–2000," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital in History: The American Record, pages 121-159 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Leah Platt Boustan & William J. Collins, 2014. "The Origin and Persistence of Black-White Differences in Women's Labor Force Participation," NBER Chapters,in: Human Capital in History: The American Record, pages 205-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Soares, Rodrigo R. & Assunção, Juliano J. & Goulart, Tomás F., 2012. "A note on slavery and the roots of inequality," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 565-580.
    12. Logan, Trevon D., 2009. "Health, human capital, and African-American migration before 1910," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 169-185, April.
    13. Margo, Robert A., 2016. "Obama, Katrina, and the Persistence of Racial Inequality," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 76(02), pages 301-341, June.
    14. Ham, Roger & Junankar, Pramod N. (Raja) & Wells, Robert, 2009. "Occupational Choice: Personality Matters," IZA Discussion Papers 4105, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Price, Gregory N. & Darity Jr., William A. & Headen Jr., Alvin E., 2008. "Does the stigma of slavery explain the maltreatment of blacks by whites: The case of lynchings," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 167-193, February.
    16. Mikael Lindahl & Mårten Palme & Sofia Sandgren Massih & Anna Sjögren, 2015. "Long-Term Intergenerational Persistence of Human Capital: An Empirical Analysis of Four Generations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 50(1), pages 1-33.
    17. Graziella Bertocchi, 2016. "The Legacies of Slavery in and out of Africa," Department of Economics 0096, University of Modena and Reggio E., Faculty of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    18. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:1032-1053 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Ilyana Kuziemko, 2011. "Human Capital Spillovers in Families: Do Parents Learn from or Lean on their Children?," NBER Working Papers 17235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Suresh Naidu, 2012. "Suffrage, Schooling, and Sorting in the Post-Bellum U.S. South," NBER Working Papers 18129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. 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.
    22. Daniel Aaronson & Bhashkar Mazumder, 2005. "Intergenerational economic mobility in the U.S., 1940 to 2000," Working Paper Series WP-05-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

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    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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