Schooling and the Great Migration
NBER Working Paper No. 2697
In 1900, 90 percent of America?s black population lived in the South and only 4.3 percent of those born in the region era living elsewhere. By 1950 the proportion of blacks living in the South had declined to 68 percent and 19.6 percent of those born in the region had left it. Using samples drawn from the public use tapes of the 1900, 1940, and 1950 censuses I show that better-educated blacks were far more likely to leave the South than less-educated ones. There was, as well, a feedback effect black school enrollment increased in states that had previously experienced high rates of black out-migration. Econometric analysis of the determinants of black out-migration suggests that the better-educated were more likely to migrate because schooling lowered the costs of migrating, possibly by increasing awareness of distant labor market opportunities and the ability to assimilate into a different social and economic environment.
Published: "'To the Promised Land': Education and the Black Exodus," Chapter 7 of Robert A. Margo, Race and Schooling in the South, 1880-1950: An Economic History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.