NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Was Postwar Suburbanization "White Flight"? Evidence from the Black Migration

Leah Platt Boustan

NBER Working Paper No. 13543
Issued in October 2007
NBER Program(s):   DAE   LS

Residential segregation by jurisdiction generates disparities in public services and education. The distinctive American pattern – in which blacks live in cities and whites in suburbs – was enhanced by a large black migration from the rural South. I show that whites responded to this black influx by leaving cities and rule out an indirect effect on housing prices as a sole cause. I instrument for changes in black population by using local economic conditions to predict black migration from southern states and assigning predicted flows to northern cities according to established settlement patterns. The best causal estimates imply that each black arrival led to 2.7 white departures.

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This paper was revised on June 1, 2009

Acknowledgments

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13543

Published: Leah Platt Boustan, 2010. "Was Postwar Suburbanization "White Flight"? Evidence from the Black Migration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 417-443, February.

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