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Civil Rights, the War on Poverty, and Black-White Convergence in Infant Mortality in the Rural South and Mississippi


Douglas Almond Jr.


Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Kenneth Y. Chay


University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Michael Greenstone


University of Chicago - Department of Economics; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

December 31, 2006

MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 07-04

Abstract:     
For the last sixty years, African-Americans have been 75% more likely to die during infancy as whites. From the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, however, this racial gap narrowed substantially. We argue that the elimination of widespread racial segregation in Southern hospitals during this period played a causal role in this improvement. Our analysis indicates that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which mandated desegregation in institutions receiving federal funds, enabled 5,000 to 7,000 additional black infants to survive infancy from 1965-1975 and at least 25,000 infants from 1965-2002. We estimate that by themselves these infant mortality benefits generated a welfare gain of more than $7 billion (2005$) for 1965-1975 and more than $27 billion for 1965-2002. These findings indicate that the benefits of the 1960s Civil Rights legislation extended beyond the labor marker and were substantially larger than recognized previously.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 36

Keywords: desegregation, hospital access, Jim Crow, racial discrimination, Civil Rights Act

JEL Classification: I38, I3, N3, N4, and J1

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Date posted: February 7, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Almond, Douglas and Chay, Kenneth Y. and Greenstone, Michael, Civil Rights, the War on Poverty, and Black-White Convergence in Infant Mortality in the Rural South and Mississippi (December 31, 2006). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 07-04. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=961021 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.961021

Contact Information

Douglas Vincent Almond Jr.
Columbia University - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )
420 W. 118th Street
International Affairs Building, MC 3308
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-3239 (Phone)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Kenneth Y. Chay
University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )
549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States
510-643-8596 (Phone)
510-642-0638 (Fax)
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
Michael Greenstone (Contact Author)
University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )
1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )
50 Memorial Drive
E52-391
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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