30 Jun Accumulation and Discrimination in the Postbellum South
“Accumulation and Discrimination in the Postbellum South” Explorations in Economic History 16, 1979
Economic inequality between blacks and whites in the postbellum South can be attributed to two factors: racial discrimination and the absence of any redistribution of tangible wealth to accompany emancipation. This paper shows that the freedmen’s initial lack of property was the most important cause of race-related income differences. The initial wealth gap between the freedmen and the whites was large enough to guarantee that a great deal of income inequality would have persisted long after emancipation, even if all markets had functioned perfectly. In addition, the actual rate at which the economic distance between blacks and whites was being reduced suggests the existence of forces which lengthened the time required to eradicate the effects of the initial wealth inequality.