After The Burning: The Economic Effects of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre


Albright A, Cook J, Feigenbaum J, Kincaide L-T, Long J, Nunn N. After The Burning: The Economic Effects of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Working Paper.
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The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre resulted in the looting, burning, and leveling of 35 square blocks of a once-thriving Black neighborhood. Not only did this lead to severe economic loss, but the Massacre also sent a warning to Black individuals across the country that similar events were possible in their communities. We examine the economic consequences of the Massacre for Black populations in Tulsa and across the United States. We find that for the Black population of Tulsa, in the two decades that followed, the Massacre led to declines in home ownership and occupational status. Outside of Tulsa, we find that the Massacre also reduced home ownership in communities that were more exposed to newspaper coverage of the Massacre and communities that, like Tulsa, had high levels of racial segregation. Examining effects after 1940, we find that the direct negative effects of the Massacre on the home ownership of Black Tulsans, as well as the spillover effects working through newspaper coverage, persist and actually widen in the second half of the 20th Century. Consistent with historical accounts, we find that, in the years following the Massacre, Black home owners and skilled workers were more likely to leave Tulsa. While the compositional effects due to selective migration are too small to explain the direct effects of the Massacre that we estimate, it is possible that the dynamic growth effects from the loss of entrepreneurial talent explains part of the longer-term adverse effects of the Massacre.

Last updated on 12/24/2022