The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners after the Civil War

65 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2019

See all articles by Philipp Ager

Philipp Ager

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Leah Platt Boustan

Princeton University

Katherine Eriksson

University of California, Davis

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Date Written: March 2019

Abstract

The nullification of slave-based wealth after the US Civil War (1861-65) was one of the largest episodes of wealth compression in history. We document that white southern households with more slave assets lost substantially more wealth by 1870 relative to households with otherwise similar pre-War wealth levels. Yet, the sons of these slaveholders recovered in income and wealth proxies by 1880, in part by shifting into white collar positions and marrying into higher status families. Their pattern of recovery is most consistent with the importance of social networks in facilitating employment opportunities and access to credit.

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Suggested Citation

Ager, Philipp and Boustan, Leah Platt and Eriksson, Katherine, The Intergenerational Effects of a Large Wealth Shock: White Southerners after the Civil War (March 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w25700. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3363436

Philipp Ager (Contact Author)

University of Southern Denmark - Department of Business and Economics ( email )

DK-5230 Odense
Denmark

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Leah Platt Boustan

Princeton University

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

Katherine Eriksson

University of California, Davis ( email )

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