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Collective Action, White Flight, and the Origins of Racial Zoning Laws

Werner Troesken and Randall Walsh ()

Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2019, vol. 35, issue 2, 289-318

Abstract: This article develops and tests a simple model to explain a watershed moment in the history of residential segregation: the passage of municipal segregation ordinances. Passed by American cities between 1909 and 1917, these ordinances were the first formal laws in American history designed to segregate city neighborhoods along racial lines. The ordinances prohibited whites (blacks) on a given city block from selling or renting property to blacks (whites). We argue that prior to these ordinances, cities sustained residential segregation through private norms and vigilante activity. Only when these private arrangements began to break down during the early 1900s did whites start lobbying municipal governments for segregation ordinances.

JEL-codes: J15 N32 N92 R30 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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