Interracial Marriage, Migration and Loving
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The United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Loving v. Virginia in 1967, which forced 16 Southern states to strike down their anti-miscegenation laws, creates a unique opportunity to explore the impact of an exogenous change in a state’s laws regulating interracial marriages. This study investigates the relationship between anti-miscegenation laws, black/white interracial marriage and black Americans’ geographical distribution using three decades of the U.S. census data. The results suggest that the timing and voluntary/involuntary repeal of statutes banning black/white interracial marriages impacted the locational distribution of married black males. The relationship is less clear-cut for black females. However, length of exposure to anti-miscegenation laws is found to be related to the geographical sorting patterns of both black males and females. A few patterns in the data suggest that social norms and local culture may be influential in this relationship and the findings imply that unless a society is ready to change, the government cannot fully offset the negative impact of past bans and punishments.
KeywordsInterracial marriage Migration Anti-miscegenation laws U.S. Supreme Court
JEL ClassificationsJ12 J15
I am very grateful to Daniel S. Hamermesh, Steve J. Trejo, Gerald S. Oettinger, and Z. Eylem Gevrek for their continued support. I would like to thank Darrick Hamilton, seminar participants at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Konstanz, and conference participants at the Society of Labor Economists annual meeting and the American Economic Association annual meeting for helpful comments. This is a revised version of the paper circulated under the title “Migration and Loving”. Thanks to Daniel S. Hamermesh and Anne Marie Jennings for their editorial assistance.
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