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Dust Bowl Migrants: Identifying an Archetype

Richard Hornbeck

No 2020-120, Working Papers from Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics

Abstract: The 1930’s American Dust Bowl created archetypal “Dust Bowl migrants,†refugees from environmental collapse and economic upheaval. I examine this archetype, comparing migration from more-eroded counties and less-eroded counties to distinguish Dust Bowl migrants from other migrants in this era. Migrants from more-eroded counties were more “negatively selected,†in years of education, than other migrants who were “positively selected.†These Dust Bowl migrants struggled economically, especially in California. Despite migrants’ struggles, however, I estimate strikingly modest impacts of the Dust Bowl on average incomes that contrast with its enduring impacts on agricultural land.

JEL-codes: N32 N52 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 22 pages
Date: 2020
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-his
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