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Black and White Fertility, Differential Baby Booms: The Value of Civil Rights (Equal Opportunity for Education)

Kevin Murphy, Curtis Simon and Robert Tamura ()

No 238, 2011 Meeting Papers from Society for Economic Dynamics

Abstract: We present new data on the fertility of blacks, 1820 to 2000, and whites, 1800 to 2000, by state. We present new data on schooling by race and cohort from 1840 to 2000. We present data on mortality for whites, 1800 to 2000, and blacks, 1820 to 2000, by state. The data indicate convergence in all three indicators. The secular decline in mortality and fertility are consistent with our previous work, Murphy, Simon and Tamura (2008). However there is a substantial difference in the behavior of fertility during the Baby Boom between whites and blacks. In many states, typically southern, white fertility rose by trivial amounts during the Baby Boom. For blacks, the Baby Boom is dramatically larger, and universal throughout the US. Schooling fails to decline for either whites or blacks during the Baby Boom, as predicted by the standard quality-quantity tradeoff of Becker and Lewis (1973). Black schooling rose as much or more than whites, despite their much larger Baby Boom. We identify this increase to the Civil Rights Successes of the 1950s and 1960s. Before the Civil War we find that the welfare cost of discrimination in school access was worth between 1.7 times to 10 times black wealth! We find that the welfare cost of discrimination in the south ranges from 1.6 to 4 times black wealth prior to 1960. We find that the Civil Rights era was valued by blacks in the South by between 1 percent to 2 percent of wealth. Outside of the South we find significant costs of discrimination prior to 1960, ranging from 8 percent to 100 percent of black wealth! For these regions from 1960-2000 blacks have attained rough parity in schooling access. The welfare magnitudes are similar to the hypothetical gains to blacks if they had white mortality rates.

Date: 2011
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