Migration Responses to Conflict: Evidence from the Border of the American Civil War

Shari Eli, Laura Salisbury, Allison Shertzer

NBER Working Paper No. 22591
Issued in September 2016, Revised in September 2016
NBER Program(s):Development of the American Economy, Development Economics, Labor Studies

The American Civil War fractured communities in border states where families who would eventually support the Union or the Confederacy lived together prior to the conflict. We study the subsequent migration choices of these Civil War veterans and their families using a unique longitudinal dataset covering enlistees from the border state of Kentucky. Nearly half of surviving Kentucky veterans moved to a new county between 1860 and 1880. There was no differential propensity to migrate according to side, but former Union soldiers were more likely to leave counties with greater Confederate sympathy for destinations that supported the North. Confederate veterans were more likely to move to counties that supported the Confederacy, or if they left the state, for the South or far West. We find no evidence of a positive economic return to these relocation decisions.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22591

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