NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Competition in the Promised Land: Black Migration and Racial Wage Convergence in the North, 1940-1970

Leah Platt Boustan

NBER Working Paper No. 13813
Issued in February 2008
NBER Program(s):   DAE   LS

Four million blacks left the South from 1940 to 1970, doubling the northern black workforce. I exploit variation in migrant flows within skill groups over time to estimate the elasticity of substitution by race. I then use this estimate to calculate counterfactual rates of wage growth. I find that black wages in the North would have been around 7 percent higher in 1970 if not for the migrant influx, while white wages would have remained unchanged. On net, migration was an avenue for black economic advancement, but the migration created both winners and losers.

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This paper was revised on December 5, 2011

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13813

Published: Boustan, Leah Platt, 2009. "Competition in the Promised Land: Black Migration and Racial Wage Convergence in the North, 1940?1970," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(03), pages 755-782, September.

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