Up from Slavery? African American Intergenerational Economic Mobility Since 1880

41 Pages Posted: 18 May 2017

See all articles by William J. Collins

William J. Collins

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics; The Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marianne Wanamaker

University of Tennessee, Knoxville; IZA

Date Written: May 2017

Abstract

We document the intergenerational mobility of black and white American men from 1880 through 2000 by building new datasets to study the late 19th and early 20th century and combining them with modern data to cover the mid- to late 20th century. We find large disparities in intergenerational mobility, with white children having far better chances of escaping the bottom of the distribution than black children in every generation. This mobility gap was more important than the gap in parents’ status in proximately determining each new generation’s racial income gap. Evidence suggests that human capital disparities underpinned the mobility gap.

Suggested Citation

Collins, William J. and Wanamaker, Marianne, Up from Slavery? African American Intergenerational Economic Mobility Since 1880 (May 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23395. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2968213

William J. Collins (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
United States
615-322-3428 (Phone)

The Brookings Institution

1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036-2188
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Marianne Wanamaker

University of Tennessee, Knoxville ( email )

The Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States

IZA ( email )

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