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Between Depression and Prosperity? Changes in the Community Context of Historical African American Migration

Townsand Price-Spratlen
Social Forces
Vol. 77, No. 2 (Dec., 1998), pp. 515-539
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/3005537
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3005537
Page Count: 25
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Between Depression and Prosperity? Changes in the Community Context of Historical African American Migration
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Abstract

This article analyzes changes in the significance of African American ethnogenesis on the contrasting flows of young migrants and total migrants to urban areas throughout the United States. I test a destination migration model during the two decades 1930-40 and 1950-60. Because of the temporal and spatial dependency among the urban counties, I use seemingly unrelated regression (SUR) to estimate simultaneously the coefficients across the two periods. By focusing on the characteristics of urban destinations, the article goes beyond most previous work that considers only the characteristics of places of origin. By examining two distinct time periods, various period effects are also appropriately considered. The results support the significance of ethnogenesis, or the establishment of "social networks and communication patterns as the bases of ... institutional and communal life" (Taylor 1979:1405), in shaping the historical migration of African Americans. However, due in part to this very ethnogenic activity, over time the relative risks of mobility for prospective migrants were gradually reduced as the migration itself became a social movement. Many of the factors that previously conditioned the migration declined in their significance, leading to reduced dynamism of the migration process.

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