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The Great Migration and the Economic Status of African-Americans Since the Great Depression: Puzzles and Paradoxes

27 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2008  

William A. Sundstrom

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department

Date Written: March 1998

Abstract

In my comments for this session, I wish to focus on what economists and economic historians have learned in recent years about the impact of the great northward migration on the economic status of African-Americans since the period of the Great Depression. At first glance, the answer seems obvious. For much of this century, the earnings and economic opportunities of black workers residing in the South were dismal. Although opportunities were also constrained in the northern cities that received the black migrants, there can be little doubt that the migration had a direct and positive effect on the economic status of most. The regional income differential for black workers both served as an economic incentive that helped spur the migration and, once the migration was underway, played a significant role in the overall narrowing of the earnings gap between blacks and whites that occurred between 1940 and the mid-1970s.

Suggested Citation

Sundstrom, William A., The Great Migration and the Economic Status of African-Americans Since the Great Depression: Puzzles and Paradoxes (March 1998). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1104055 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1104055

William A. Sundstrom (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - Leavey School of Business - Economics Department ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA California 95053
United States
408-554-4341 (Phone)
408-554-2331 (Fax)

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