“Can you move to opportunity? Evidence from the Great Migration”
Abstract: This paper shows that racial composition shocks during the Great Migration (1940-1970) lowered black upward mobility in the northern United States. I identify northern black population increases using a shift-share instrument, interacting pre-1940 black migrants’ location choices with predicted southern county out-migration. The Migration’s effects on children are driven by locational factors, not negative selection of families. Using data I assembled on destinations from 1920- 2015, I show the Migration led to persistent segregation and higher police spending, crime, and incarceration from the 1960s onwards. The changes induced by the Migration explain 27% of the region’s racial
upward mobility gap today.
Co-Sponsored with the Dept. of Economics