Economics Research Seminar | Weatherhead School at Case Western Reserve University

Economics Research Seminar

Black-White Economic Progress: The Impact of the boll Weevil

This paper investigates the effect of a large negative agricultural shock, the boll weevil, on Black-white home ownership and wage gaps in the first half of the twentieth century. We draw on complete count census data to generate a new large linked sample of Black and white fathers and their sons. Fathers are observed before and after the arrival of the boll weevil in their county, and their sons are observed in their father's household as children and again in 1940 as adults. In race specific difference-in-differences specifications and in triple differences specifications, we find that the boll weevil differentially benefited Black sons born after its arrival. Relative to white sons born after the boll weevil in the same county, Black sons born after the boll weevil saw a 3% increase in home ownership and 6% increase in their wages. The effects are not driven by migration and are larger when the sample is restricted to fathers who worked in agriculture.  These findings and additional evidence on changes in fertility, crop mix, pellagra mortality, and heights suggest that the gains were driven by relative improvements in early life conditions for Black sons.

Please join the Economics Department for a research seminar.  This event is open to all Case Western Reserve University  faculty, Ph.D. students, economic majors and minors, and those interested in economics research.  Contact Teresa Kabat at or 216.368.4110 for additional information.

This will be a Zoom Seminar

Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Peter B. Lewis Building
11119 Bellflower Road
Cleveland, OH 44106-7235
United States
Speaker(s): Karen Clay, Carnegie Mellon University
Sponsored by: Economics Department


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