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UM study of newly released 1940 census shows future generations benefited from the Great Migration

Feb 8, 2018

Census roll from 1940 census.
Credit RGHA 1913 / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Great Migration was one of the most significant population shifts of the 20th century. In the 1930s and 1940s, African-Americans migrated out of the South and settled throughout the United States.

Now, a University of Michigan study shows that the Great Migration helped the next generation, the children of those men and women who left the South.

Catherine Massey, a co-author of the study and a research scientist with the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, joined Stateside to talk about her findings.

Listen to the full conversation above or read highlights below.

On the results of the study

“I think [this study] really fits into a broader literature about stagnation in the South and areas of the US that are persistently high inequality, low mobility states. And these people, this was like a release valve for them. They were able to move to the North, move to better opportunities, and their children really benefited from it as we see in this study.”

On potential applications for the study's findings

“We’re finding that there are persistent effects across families and that it varies by geography. So it’s just building more and more evidence that perhaps we need some very targeted policies to try to reduce inequality in these highly immobile, high inequality areas.”

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