The Political Economy of Fair Housing Laws Prior to 1968

William J. Collins

NBER Working Paper No. 10610
Issued in July 2004
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy

The confluence of the Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement propelled the drive for fair-housing' legislation which attempted to curb overt discrimination in housing markets. This drive culminated in the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1968. By that time, 57 percent of the U.S. population and 41 percent of the African-American population already resided in states with a fair-housing law. Despite laying the political and administrative groundwork for the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968, the origins and diffusion of these state laws have not received much attention from scholars, let alone been subject to statistical efforts to disentangle multiple influences. This paper uses hazard models to analyze the diffusion of fair-housing legislation to shed new light on the combination of economic and political forces that facilitated the laws' adoption. Ceteris paribus, outside the South, states with larger union memberships, more Jewish residents, and more NAACP members passed fair-housing laws sooner than others. The estimated effects are not undermined by including controls for a variety of competing factors and are supported by historical accounts of the legislative campaigns.

download in pdf format
   (143 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10610

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Collins w9562 The Housing Market Impact of State-Level Anti-Discrimination Laws, 1960-970
Collins and Margo w7277 Race and Home Ownership, 1900 to 1990
Collins h0128 The Political Economy of Race, 1940-1964: The Adoption of State-Level Fair Employment Legislation
Bayer, Casey, Ferreira, and McMillan w18069 Estimating Racial Price Differentials in the Housing Market
Kotlikoff and Rapson Does It Pay, at the Margin, to Work and Save? Measuring Effective Marginal Taxes on Americans' Labor Supply and Saving
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us