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The Labor Market Effects of the 1960s Riots

Author

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  • William J. Collins

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • Robert A. Margo

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

Abstract

Between 1964 and 1971, hundreds of riots erupted in American cities, resulting in large numbers of injuries, deaths, and arrests, as well as in considerable property damage that was concentrated in predominantly black neighborhoods. There have been few studies of a systematic, econometric nature that examine the impact of the riots on the relative economic status of African Americans, or on the cities and neighborhoods in which the riots took. We present two complementary empirical analyses. The first uses aggregate, city-level data on income, employment, unemployment, and the area's racial composition from the published volumes of the federal censuses. We estimate the "riot effect" by both ordinary least squares and two-stage least squares. The second empirical approach uses individual-level census data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series for 1950, 1970, and 1980. The findings suggest that the riots had negative effects on blacks' income and employment that were economically significant and that may have been larger in the long run (1960-1980) than in the short run (1960-1970). We view these findings as suggestive rather than definitive for two reasons. First, the data are not detailed enough to identify the precise mechanisms at work. Second, the wave of riots may have had negative spillover effects to cities that did not experience severe riots; if so, we would tend to underestimate the riots' overall effect.

Suggested Citation

  • William J. Collins & Robert A. Margo, 2003. "The Labor Market Effects of the 1960s Riots," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0324, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0324
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Charles Brown, 1984. "Black-White Earnings Ratios Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Importance of Labor Market Dropouts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(1), pages 31-44.
    2. William Poole, 2001. "Expectations," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 83(Mar), pages 1-10.
    3. DiPasquale, Denise & Glaeser, Edward L., 1998. "The Los Angeles Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 52-78, January.
    4. Edward L. Glaeser & Joseph Gyourko, 2005. "Urban Decline and Durable Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 345-375, April.
    5. Collins, William J. & Margo, Robert A., 2000. "Residential segregation and socioeconomic outcomes: When did ghettos go bad?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 239-243, November.
    6. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
    7. Collins, William J. & Margo, Robert A., 2003. "Race and the value of owner-occupied housing, 1940-1990," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 255-286, May.
    8. Eisinger, Peter K., 1973. "The Conditions of Protest Behavior in American Cities," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 67(1), pages 11-28, March.
    9. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-872.
    10. Amitabh Chandra, 2000. "Labor-Market Dropouts and the Racial Wage Gap: 1940-1990," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 333-338, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Card & Alexandre Mas & Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "Tipping and the Dynamics of Segregation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(1), pages 177-218.
    2. El-Mallakh, Nelly & Maurel, Mathilde & Speciale, Biagio, 2018. "Arab spring protests and women's labor market outcomes: Evidence from the Egyptian revolution," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 656-682.
    3. Sangnier, Marc & Zylberberg, Yanos, 2017. "Protests and trust in the state: Evidence from African countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 55-67.
    4. Noli Brazil, 2016. "Large-Scale Urban Riots and Residential Segregation: A Case Study of the 1960s U.S. Riots," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 53(2), pages 567-595, April.
    5. Orley Ashenfelter & William J. Collins & Albert Yoon, 2006. "Evaluating the Role of Brown v. Board of Education in School Equalization, Desegregation, and the Income of African Americans," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 213-248.
    6. Miguel, Edward & Roland, Gérard, 2011. "The long-run impact of bombing Vietnam," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 1-15, September.
    7. Sangnier, Marc & Zylberberg, Yanos, 2017. "Protests and trust in the state: Evidence from African countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 152(C), pages 55-67.
    8. Iyer, Sriya & Shrivastava, Anand, 2018. "Religious riots and electoral politics in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 104-122.
    9. El-Mallakh, Nelly, 2020. "How do protests affect electoral choices? Evidence from Egypt," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 179(C), pages 299-322.
    10. Thomas Zeitzoff, 2018. "Anger, legacies of violence, and group conflict: An experiment in post-riot Acre, Israel," Conflict Management and Peace Science, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 35(4), pages 402-423, July.
    11. Collins, William J. & Smith, Fred H., 2007. "A neighborhood-level view of riots, property values, and population loss: Cleveland 1950-1980," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 365-386, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Civil disturbances; Watts;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • R0 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General

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