Vasiliki Fouka, Soumyajit Mazumder, Marco Tabellini, 27 March 2020

From 1915 to 1930, 1.5 million African Americans moved from the southern US to northern urban centres. This column uses that shift as a historical case study, investigating how the appearance of a new migrant group affects the integration of previous generations of immigrants. It finds that the arrival of African Americans increased the effort exerted by Southern and Eastern Europeans to assimilate, but that Western and Northern Europeans, who were regarded as culturally closer to the native-born white population, had an easier time integrating. 

Alvaro Calderon, Vasiliki Fouka, Marco Tabellini, 01 February 2020

The 1940-1970 Great Migration of African Americans was one of the largest episodes of internal migration in the US. This column examines how resulting changes in the racial composition of local constituencies affected voters’ preferences and politicians’ behaviour. It finds that Democrats and union members supported blacks’ struggle for racial equality, but that backlash against civil rights erupted among Republicans and among whites who more exposed to racial mixing of their neighbourhoods. It also shows that politicians largely responded to demands of their constituencies. The findings suggest that under certain conditions, cross-race coalitions can emerge, but they also indicate that changes in the composition of the electorate can polarise both voters and politicians.

Prottoy A. Akbar, Sijie Li, Allison Shertzer, Randall Walsh, 31 August 2019

The Great Migration is associated with increased residential segregation in northern cities, inflating rents and eroding housing values. This column uses new data at the block level to estimate the scale of price changes. Segregation and ghetto expansion meant that much of the gain in earnings for black families who moved north were cancelled out. The effects of this are still felt today.

Vasiliki Fouka, Soumyajit Mazumder, Marco Tabellini, 17 June 2018

The ability of a state to accommodate diverse populations depends on how successfully immigrant groups can assimilate. The column use data from the south-north migration of 1.5 million African Americans between 1910 and 1930 to show that the appearance of other low-status groups can promote assimilation among pre-existing immigrants. The new low-status group makes existing immigrants appear less socially distant to natives. This suggests that assimilation policies that target native attitudes might as promising as interventions directed at immigrants.

Trevon Logan, John Parman, 09 March 2015

Racial disparities in socioeconomic conditions remain a major policy issue throughout the world. This column applies a new neighbour-based measure of residential segregation to US census data from 1880 and 1940. The authors find that existing measures understate the extent of segregation, and that segregation increased in rural as well as urban areas. The dramatic decline in opposite-race neighbours during the 20th century may help to explain the persistence of racial inequality in the US.

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