Demography

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Second-Generation Outcomes of the Great Migration

  • J. Trent Alexander
  • Christine Leibbrand
  • Catherine Massey
  • Stewart Tolnay
Article

Abstract

The mass migration of African Americans out of the South during the first two-thirds of the twentieth century represents one of the most significant internal migration flows in U.S. history. Those undertaking the Great Migration left the South in search of a better life, and their move transformed the cultural, social, and political dynamics of African American life specifically and U.S. society more generally. Recent research offers conflicting evidence regarding the migrants’ success in translating their geographic mobility into economic mobility. Due in part to the lack of a large body of longitudinal data, almost all studies of the Great Migration have focused on the migrants themselves, usually over short periods of their working lives. Using longitudinally linked census data, we take a broader view, investigating the long-term economic and social effects of the Great Migration on the migrants’ children. Our results reveal modest but statistically significant advantages in education, income, and poverty status for the African American children of the Great Migration relative to the children of southerners who remained in the South. In contrast, second-generation white migrants experienced few benefits from migrating relative to southern or northern stayers.

Keywords

Great Migration Second-generation migrants Migrant outcomes Socioeconomic outcomes 

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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Trent Alexander
    • 1
  • Christine Leibbrand
    • 2
  • Catherine Massey
    • 1
  • Stewart Tolnay
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Social ResearchUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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