Compositional Threat? An Analysis of the Return Migration and Southern Poverty

Katherine J. Curtis, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Jack DeWaard, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Contemporary return migration and changes in racial inequality in poverty make the U.S. South a particularly intriguing case in which to assess the effects of migration on the racial dimensions of poverty. Spatially-informed random effects panel Tobit regression analysis of racial inequality in county poverty rates for southern households shows African American in-migration has important compositional effects. In-migration affects inequality in poverty by modifying the size (which could aggravate inequality) and characteristics of the African American population (which could ameliorate or aggravate inequality). Racial inequality in poverty is lower for counties with higher African American in-migration rates, net of the influence of racial concentration and other structural characteristics. Moreover, the aggravating influence of racial concentration is lower in counties with higher in-migration rates. Overall, results suggest in-migration contributed to the declining inequality in southern poverty in recent decades, and demonstrate the significance of macro-level forces in shaping, or re-shaping, structural inequality.

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Presented in Session 42: Internal Migration