The Great Migration and Mortality of African Americans

Seth G. Sanders, Duke University
Magdalena Muszynska, Duke University

The impact of the Great Migration on economic outcomes among African Americans has been widely studied, but little is known about its impact on key health outcomes like longevity. With data from the Duke Social Security/Medicare Dataset, we compare mortality rates of blacks born in the South who remained there to mortality rates of those who moved out of the South. Preliminary analysis demonstrates that being born near a North-South railway line had a powerful impact on the probability a black person migrated out of the South. The corresponding figure is substantially lower for those not born on the rail line. The fact that we can distinguish between those born on the railway lines and far from the lines, gives us a chance to further speculate on the effect of selective migration on old-age mortality, with its effect being stronger for those not born on the rail line.

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Presented in Session 187: Hispanic and Black Health and Mortality