American Economic Review: Vol. 101 No. 3 (May 2011)


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Land and Racial Wealth Inequality

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Miller, Melinda C. 2011. "Land and Racial Wealth Inequality." American Economic Review, 101(3): 371-76.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.101.3.371


Could racial wealth inequality have been reduced if freed slaves had been granted land following the Civil War? This paper exploits a plausibly exogenous variation in policies of the Cherokee Nation and southern United States to identify the impact of free land on the size of the racial wealth gap. Using data on land, livestock, and home ownership, I find evidence that former slaves who had access to free land were absolutely wealthier and experienced lower levels of racial wealth inequality in 1880 than former slaves who did not. Furthermore, their children continued to experience these advantages in 1900.

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Miller, Melinda C. (Economic Growth Center, Yale U)

JEL Classifications

D31: Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
J15: Economics of Minorities and Races; Non-labor Discrimination
N31: Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
N41: Economic History: Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation: U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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