The Great Migration and African-American Mortality: Evidence from Mississippi

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IZA Seminar

Place: Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 9, 53113 Bonn

Date: 22.02.2011, 12:15 - 13:30


Presentation by 

Dan A. Black (University of Chicago)


The Great Migration—the early twentieth-century migration of millions of African Americans out of the South to locations with stronger economic opportunities—is understood as an important key to the advancement of economic racial equity our society. But, of course, welfare is more than income; a complete analysis of the impact of the Great Migration on migrants should evaluate not only wages, but also other measures of well-being. In this paper we focus the impact of the Great Migration on a second important measure of lifetime welfare—rates of mortality of African Americans. The key to our study is a unique dataset that provides precise place of birth, place of death, and age at death for African Americans born in Mississippi in the early twentieth century. We are able to identify the causal effect of migration on mortality, we argue, by using the proximity of birthplace to early twentieth century railroad lines (which, we find, had a substantial impact on the likelihood of migration). Empirical analysis of indicates that migration North played no role in lowering mortality of these individuals.

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