, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 209–231 | Cite as

Geographic Migration of Black and White Families Over Four Generations

  • Patrick SharkeyEmail author


This article analyzes patterns of geographic migration of black and white American families over four consecutive generations. The analysis is based on a unique set of questions in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) asking respondents about the counties and states in which their parents and grandparents were raised. Using this information along with the extensive geographic information available in the PSID survey, the article tracks the geographic locations of four generations of family members and considers the ways in which families and places are linked together over the course of a family’s history. The patterns documented in the article are consistent with much of the demographic literature on the Great Migration of black Americans out of the South, but they reveal new insights into patterns of black migration after the Great Migration. In the most recent generation, black Americans have remained in place to a degree that is unique relative to the previous generation and relative to whites of the same generation. This new geographic immobility is the most pronounced change in black Americans’ migration patterns after the Great Migration, and it is a pattern that has implications for the demography of black migration as well as the literature on racial inequality.


Intergenerational migration Race 



This project was supported with a grant from the UC-Davis Poverty Research Center. I received helpful comments from participants in the UC-Davis Poverty Research Center Small Grants Conference, and in particular from Abigail Wozniak. I would also like to thank Manish Nag, who offered extensive assistance in the construction of maps found in the text, which were developed using the Sonoma Network Mapping Software that he developed.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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