Two phenomena lie at the heart of 20th century African American social history: (1) the "black- white economic convergence" that accompanied the decline in discriminatory barriers and narrowing of the black-white gap in human capital, and (2) the "great migration"-the movement of millions of African Americans from the South to the North, Midwest, and West. In this project we intend to assemble a detailed historical/statistical portrait of these phenomena, and investigate the relationships between them. Our broad purpose is to increase scientific understanding of racial inequality, in terms of both economic and health-related outcomes. Ultimately, we intend that this research be useful in formulating policies that reducing racial disparity. In pursuing this program we take several steps: First, we will work with appropriate agencies to build several new longitudinal data sources for the purpose of studying racial inequality in earnings, consumption, health (as measured along many dimensions) and mortality. We will use these new data resources in our own research, and they will be made available to the broader research community for further investigations. Second, using our newly developed data resources, along with other existing data, we intend to explore the interplay between migration and black-white economic inequality, reassessing current views about black-white economic convergence over the past 70 years. In conducting this research, we will pay far more attention than has previously been possible to the location-specific nature of racial disparities. Third, we will conduct a thorough analysis of the well-being of blacks relative to whites using health outcomes and mortality, analyzing in particular the role of migration for the health of African Americans. Fourth, we plan to analyze available evidence about the impact of black migration from the South not only on the well-being of migrants themselves, but also on the well-being of their children and grandchildren.
In the United States racial inequality is an essential societal issue. It s important that scientists build clear evidence about racial disparities, and their causes and consequences, if progress is to be made in forming appropriate policy responses. These serious concerns motivate our research program-an empirical analysis of black-white inequality in economic- and health-related outcomes in the U.S. over the past century.