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Christine Leibbrand, Catherine Massey, J. Trent Alexander, Stewart Tolnay


Between 1915 and 1970, millions of black and white southerners migrated north in search of better lives for themselves and their children. Using novel, longitudinally linked 1940 and 2000 census data, we investigate whether this mass migration corresponded to improved neighborhood attainment outcomes for the black and white children of Great Migration migrants in their adulthood. We find that black and white second-generation migrants tend to live in more socioeconomically advantaged and whiter neighborhoods than southern stayers, although these advantages are partially explained by the characteristics of second-generation migrants and their parents. Moreover, black second-generation migrants in the North are more successful at converting higher socioeconomic status into improved neighborhood outcomes relative to those who stayed in the South. Our findings provide powerful evidence that leaving the South resulted in residential advantages for the children of Great Migration participants.

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