Racial Segregation and Southern Lynching

56 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2017 Last revised: 25 Jan 2023

See all articles by Lisa D. Cook

Lisa D. Cook

Michigan State University - Department of Economics and James Madison College; NBER

Trevon Logan

Ohio State University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

John Parman

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics

Date Written: September 2017

Abstract

The literature on ethnic fractionalization and conflict has not been extended to the American past. In particular, the empirical relationship between racial residential segregation and lynching is unknown. The existing economic, social, and political theories of lynching contain hypotheses about the relationship between racial segregation and racial violence, consistent with theories of social conflict. Since Southern lynching occurred in rural and urban areas, traditional urban measures of racial segregation cannot be used to estimate the relationship. We use a newly developed household-level measure of residential segregation (Logan and Parman 2017), which can distinguish between racial homogeneity of a location and the tendency to racially segregate, to estimate the correlation between racial segregation and lynching in the southern counties of the United States. We find that conditional on racial composition, racially segregated counties were much more likely to experience lynchings. Consistent with the hypothesis that segregation is related to interracial violence, we find that segregation is highly correlated with African American lynching, but uncorrelated with white lynching. These results extend the analysis of racial/ethnic conflict into the past and show that the effects of social interactions and interracial proximity in rural areas are as important as those in urban areas.

Suggested Citation

Cook, Lisa D. and Logan, Trevon and Parman, John, Racial Segregation and Southern Lynching (September 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23813, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3038623

Lisa D. Cook (Contact Author)

Michigan State University - Department of Economics and James Madison College ( email )

South Case Hall
East Lansing, MI 48825-1205
United States

NBER ( email )

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Trevon Logan

Ohio State University ( email )

2100 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH OH 43210
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John Parman

College of William and Mary - Department of Economics ( email )

Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

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