Fare Thee Well: Human Capital and African American Migration before 1910

Trevon D. Logan, Ohio State University

There are several theories that seek to link the decline in the aggregate skill level of the Southern African American population before the Great Migration to migration before World War I. Showing educational selection in migration is complicated since education and other features of human capital are highly correlated with one another. I use IPUMS and the Colored Troops Sample of the Union Army Data to estimate the effects of literacy and health (stock and flow) on the migration propensities of African Americans. I find that literacy and health flows were strong predictors of migration, and the effect of literacy on migration is reduced by one-quarter to one-third once health is controlled for. Additionally, the Colored Troops Sample allows us to measure migration in several ways, with migrations that would and would not be prone to educational selection. The results are robust to the measurement of migration and health.

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Presented in Session 80: Racial and Ethnic Differentials in Nineteenth Century Demographic Behavior