Giovanni Facchini, Brian Knight, Cecilia Testa, 07 July 2020

The disproportionate arrest rates of black Americans is well established, but the relationship between racist police practices and political accountability is not. This column examines whether black voter turnout – which soared following the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – affected police departments in the southern US. It finds that an historically oppressed minority’s enfranchisement can lead to their improved treatment by police, but only when the chief law enforcement officers in a district are elected rather than appointed. While historical in nature, the findings have significant policy implications given ongoing debates about policing, race, and voting.

Lisa Cook, Trevon Logan, John Parman, 14 October 2017

Lynchings in the American South reached their peak in the 1890s, but their impact persists today. This column applies a new measure of segregation to data on the incidence of lynchings to confirm earlier findings that counties with larger black population shares were more likely to experience lynchings, but also that greater segregation of the black population increased lynching activity. These findings demonstrate that residential segregation matters in rural areas for both intergroup relations and the economic and social outcomes that depend on those relationships.

Taylor Jaworski, 17 June 2017

Mobilisation for WWII is typically credited as having spurred the industrialisation of the American South, where industrial development had previously been stymied. Using newly collected data, this column revisits this hypothesis. Unlike earlier studies, the results do not support a decisive role for wartime capital deepening on the South’s post-war industrial development. While the results don’t rule out some positive effects of WWII investment, they suggest it may have had limited usefulness in post-war, non-military production.

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