Linking Racial Composition and Black-White Inequality: The Impact of Migration

Heather A. O'Connell, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Black population concentration has a prominent position in the racial inequality literature. Despite extended attention, considerable debate regarding what drives the percent black-inequality relationship remains. Scholars have argued that the association is a result of selective migration rather than greater discrimination within high relative to low percent black places. I aim to assess this theoretical distinction by employing an innovative methodological approach to isolate the impact of migration on the percent black-inequality relationship. Using the 2000 US Census race by education cross-tabulation of county migration data, I compare the observed percent black relationship with what would have been had there been no adult migration in the previous 5 years. This work extends racial inequality theory by advancing our understanding of the processes underlying the percent black association, and adds to migration theory by developing how migrant selectivity could differ across place.

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Presented in Session 198: Economic Outcomes for Immigrants in Developed Countries