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The Great Migration in Black and White: New Evidence on the Selection and Sorting of Southern Migrants

William J. Collins, Marianne H. Wanamaker

NBER Working Paper No. 21384
Issued in July 2015
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy

We construct datasets of linked census records to study internal migrants’ selection and destination choices during the first decades of the “Great Migration” (1910-1930). We study both whites and blacks and intra- and inter-regional migration. While there is some evidence of positive selection, the degree of selection was small and participation in migration was widespread. Differences in background, including initial location, cannot account for racial differences in destination choices. Blacks and whites were similarly responsive to pre-existing migrant stocks from their home state, but black men were more deterred by distance, attracted to manufacturing, and responsive to labor demand.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21384

Published: Collins, William J. & Wanamaker, Marianne H., 2015. "The Great Migration in Black and White: New Evidence on the Selection and Sorting of Southern Migrants," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 75(04), pages 947-992, December. citation courtesy of

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