April 8, 2021, 15:30–16:45
Behavior, Institutions, and Development seminar
The Great Migration of Black Southerners has long been of interest to economists. In this paper, we document that also 18 million white Southerners moved to the rest of the country. Using data for all non-Southern counties, we show that these white Southerners had a transformative impact on the political and cultural landscape of the places they settled in. In particular, areas with a higher share of white Southerners in 1940 saw increased vote shares for Donald Trump in 2016. We trace out this increase in voter preferences since 1940 until today, both for presidential as well as Congressional district elections. Congressmen in areas with higher historic white Southern migration tended to be more conservative and were more likely to oppose Civil Rights legislation. The mechanism we propose works through the establishment of Southern churches outside the South, especially Evangelical and Baptist churches, which can motivate this long-run persistence. joint with Patrick Testa (Tulane University).