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The Political Economy of Segregation: The Case of Segregated Streetcars

Jennifer Roback
The Journal of Economic History
Vol. 46, No. 4 (Dec., 1986), pp. 893-917
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2121814
Page Count: 25
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The Political Economy of Segregation: The Case of Segregated Streetcars
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Abstract

The introduction of segregation laws for municipal streetcars is examined. The economics of private and public segregation is analyzed first, taking note of the particular features of the streetcar industry, followed by a discussion of the contemporary debates on streetcar segregation laws in a number of southern cities. The evidence presented suggests that segregation laws were binding constraints and not simply the codification of customary practice. Furthermore, the streetcar companies were not the initiators of segregation and sometimes actively resisted it. These findings are related to several major interpretations of the origins of segregation.

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