The Labor Market Effects of the 1960s Riots

39 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2004

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)

Robert A. Margo

Boston University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 2003

Abstract

Between 1964 and 1971, hundreds of riots erupted in American cities, resulting in large numbers of injuries, deaths, and arrests, as well as in considerable property damage that was concentrated in predominantly black neighborhoods. There have been few studies of a systematic, econometric nature that examine the impact of the riots on the relative economic status of African Americans, or on the cities and neighborhoods in which the riots took. We present two complementary empirical analyses. The first uses aggregate, city-level data on income, employment, unemployment, and the area's racial composition from the published volumes of the federal censuses. We estimate the riot effect by both ordinary least squares and two-stage least squares. The second empirical approach uses individual-level census data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series for 1950, 1970, and 1980. The findings suggest that the riots had negative effects on blacks' income and employment that were economically significant and that may have been larger in the long run (1960-1980) than in the short run (1960-1970). We view these findings as suggestive rather than definitive for two reasons. First, the data are not detailed enough to identify the precise mechanisms at work. Second, the wave of riots may have had negative spillover effects to cities that did not experience severe riots; if so, we would tend to underestimate the riots' overall effect.

Suggested Citation

Collins, William J. and Margo, Robert A., The Labor Market Effects of the 1960s Riots (December 2003). Harvard Institute of Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 2026. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=569872 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.569872

William J. Collins

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)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Robert A. Margo (Contact Author)

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-6819 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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