Race, Socioeconomic Status, and the First Public Housing Residents of the United States

David Van Riper , Minnesota Population Center
Ryan Allen, University of Minnesota
Scott Dallman, University of Minnesota
Angira Mondal, University of Minnesota

We use a new dataset on 29,416 households residing in public housing as of the 1940 Census to analyze demographic and socioeconomic variation between African American- and white-headed households at the national and regional level of the US. Nationally, African American-headed households had a lower median income and a higher proportion of employed heads than white-headed households. Educational attainment was mixed, with a higher proportion of African American householders having less than an 8th grade and more than a high school education than white householders. Regional patterns of employment and educational attainment mirror national patterns. Median income for African American-headed households, however, was higher in the Northeast and lower in the Midwest and South than white-headed households. These results suggest that African Americans had to meet a higher bar, especially with respect to employment and, to a lesser degree, educational attainment, than whites to be selected for public housing.

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 Presented in Session 56. Racial Inequality in the United States