NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Suffrage, Schooling, and Sorting in the Post-Bellum U.S. South

Suresh Naidu

NBER Working Paper No. 18129
Issued in June 2012
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Economics of Education, Law and Economics, Political Economy

This paper estimates the political and economic effects of the 19th century disenfranchisement of black citizens in the U.S. South. Using adjacent county-pairs that straddle state boundaries, I examine the effect of voting restrictions on political competition, public goods, and factor markets. I find that poll taxes and literacy tests each lowered overall electoral turnout by 8-22% and increased the Democratic vote share in elections by 1-7%. Employing newly collected data on schooling inputs, I show that disenfranchisement reduced the teacher-child ratio in black schools by 10-23%, with no significant effects on white teacher-child ratios. I develop a model of suffrage restriction and redistribution in a 2-factor economy with migration and agricultural production to generate sufficient statistics for welfare analysis of the incidence of black disenfranchisement. Consistent with the model, disenfranchised counties experienced a 3.5% increase in farm values per acre, despite a 4% fall in the black population. The estimated factor market responses suggest that black labor bore a collective loss from disenfranchisement equivalent to at least 15% of annual income, with landowners experiencing a 12% gain.

download in pdf format
   (678 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18129

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Jones, Troesken, and Walsh w18612 A Poll Tax by any Other Name: The Political Economy of Disenfranchisement
Hornbeck and Naidu w18296 When the Levee Breaks: Black Migration and Economic Development in the American South
Goldin The Political Economy of Immigration Restriction in the United States, 1890 to 1921
Cascio and Washington w17776 Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds Following the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Higgins Lombard Street in 1913
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

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

Contact Us