The Impact of Cultural Attitudes on Economic Outcomes and the Political Behavior of Blacks
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thesis / dissertation description
In this dissertation, I offer two distinct studies on cultural attitudes. In the first study, I analyze the extent to which the political participation of blacks can be traced to historical lynchings that took place between 1882 and 1930 in the same counties. Using county-level voter registration data, I show that blacks who reside in southern counties that experienced a relatively higher number of historical lynchings have lower voter registration rates today. This relationship holds after accounting for a variety of historical and contemporary characteristics of counties and strengthen when lynchings are instrumented with historical measures of environmental suitability for growing cotton. Examining individual-level data shows that blacks who reside in counties with higher lynching rates are less likely to vote compared to their white counterparts. Lynchings have no impact on voting differences between other minority groups and whites. In the second study, I examine the extent to which streets named after prominent Confederate Generals reflect an area's racial animus towards blacks and are related to black-white labor market differentials. Data from Google Trends show that Confederate streets are positively associated with Google searches for a racially charged slur used towards blacks indicating that Confederate streets are an indicator of racial animus. Combining individual-level survey data with county-level data on street names shows that blacks who reside in areas with a relatively higher number of Confederate streets are more likely to be employed in labor intensive occupations compared to whites. Furthermore, blacks who reside in areas with more Confederate streets have lower incomes compared whites. The results strengthen when Confederate streets are instrumented with historical measures of slavery. I find no evidence that geographic sorting explains these results in that blacks who migrated away from southern counties with a higher number of Confederate streets do not differ from blacks who remained.