Regional income gaps in the U.S.A. today -- what can geography and slavery explain?
Before the abolition of slavery, some states and counties in the U.S.A. relied more on slavery than others, and the most slave intense regions were among the richest in the nation. Today, however, previously slave intense regions are among the poorest. We pose two questions. (1) What can account for the geographical differences in slavery? (2) What caused the reversal in the ranking of incomes? Our answer to the first question has to do with variations in climate, and access to shipping points. Our answer to the second has to do with inequality in the distribution of human capital: when industrialization set in skilled labor became more important, so states with a large fraction of the labor force being former slaves -- and thus less educated -- started lagging behind
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