Dust Bowl Migrants: Identifying an Archetype

24 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2020

See all articles by Richard Hornbeck

Richard Hornbeck

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 31, 2020


The 1930’s American Dust Bowl created archetypal “Dust Bowl migrants,” refugees from environmental collapse and economic upheaval. I examine this archetype, comparing migration from more-eroded counties and less-eroded counties to distinguish Dust Bowl migrants from other migrants in this era. Migrants from more-eroded counties were more “negatively selected,” in years of education, than other migrants who were “positively selected.” These Dust Bowl migrants struggled economically, especially in California. Despite migrants’ struggles, however, I estimate strikingly modest impacts of the Dust Bowl on average incomes that contrast with its enduring impacts on agricultural land.

Suggested Citation

Hornbeck, Richard, Dust Bowl Migrants: Identifying an Archetype (August 31, 2020). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2020-120, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3686015 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3686015

Richard Hornbeck (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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