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Black and White Fertility, Differential Baby Booms: The Value of Civil Rights (Equal Opportunity for Education)


  • Kevin M. Murphy

    (University of Chicago)

  • Curtis J. Simon

    (Clemson University)

  • Robert Tamura

    (Clemson University)


We present new data on the fertility of blacks, 1820 to 2000, and whites, 1800 to 2000, by state. We present new data on schooling by race and cohort from 1840 to 2000. We present data on mortality for whites, 1800 to 2000, and blacks, 1820 to 2000, by state. The data indicate convergence in all three indicators. The secular decline in mortality and fertility are consistent with our previous work, Murphy, Simon and Tamura (2008). However there is a substantial difference in the behavior of fertility during the Baby Boom between whites and blacks. In many states, typically southern, white fertility rose by trivial amounts during the Baby Boom. For blacks, the Baby Boom is dramatically larger, and universal throughout the US. Schooling fails to decline for either whites or blacks during the Baby Boom, as predicted by the standard quality-quantity tradeoff of Becker and Lewis (1973). Black schooling rose as much or more than whites, despite their much larger Baby Boom. We identify this increase to the Civil Rights Successes of the 1950s and 1960s. Before the Civil War we find that the welfare cost of discrimination in school access was worth between 1.7 times to 10 times black wealth! We find that the welfare cost of discrimination in the south ranges from 1.6 to 4 times black wealth prior to 1960. We find that the Civil Rights era was valued by blacks in the South by between 1 percent to 2 percent of wealth. Outside of the South we find significant costs of discrimination prior to 1960, ranging from 8 percent to 100 percent of black wealth! For these regions from 1960-2000 blacks have attained rough parity in schooling access. The welfare magnitudes are similar to the hypothetical gains to blacks if they had white mortality rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin M. Murphy & Curtis J. Simon & Robert Tamura, 2011. "Black and White Fertility, Differential Baby Booms: The Value of Civil Rights (Equal Opportunity for Education)," 2011 Meeting Papers 238, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:238

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Scott L. Baier & Gerald P. Dwyer & Robert Tamura, 2006. "How Important are Capital and Total Factor Productivity for Economic Growth?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(1), pages 23-49, January.
    2. Kevin M. Murphy & Curtis Simon & Robert Tamura, 2008. "Fertility Decline, Baby Boom, and Economic Growth," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(3), pages 262-302.
    3. Todd Schoellman, 2007. "The Causes and Consequences of Cross-Country Differences in Schooling Attainment," 2007 Meeting Papers 297, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & David H. Autor & David Lyle, 2004. "Women, War, and Wages: The Effect of Female Labor Supply on the Wage Structure at Midcentury," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 497-551, June.
    5. Chatterjee, Satyajit & Carlino, Gerald A., 2001. "Aggregate metropolitan employment growth and the deconcentration of metropolitan employment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(3), pages 549-583, December.
    6. Tamura, Robert, 2006. "Human capital and economic development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 26-72, February.
    7. Tamura, Robert, 1996. "From decay to growth: A demographic transition to economic growth," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 20(6-7), pages 1237-1261.
    8. Tamura, Robert, 2002. "Human capital and the switch from agriculture to industry," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 207-242, December.
    9. Tamura, Robert, 1991. "Income Convergence in an Endogenous Growth Model," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 522-540, June.
    10. Simon, Curtis J. & Tamura, Robert, 2009. "Do higher rents discourage fertility? Evidence from U.S. cities, 1940-2000," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 33-42, January.
    11. Chad Turner & Robert Tamura & Sean Mulholland & Scott Baier, 2007. "Education and income of the states of the United States: 1840–2000," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 101-158, June.
    12. Francisco Covas & J.M.C. Santos Silva, 2000. "A modified hurdle model for completed fertility," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(2), pages 173-188.
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