Menu Close

Race, Regional Origin, and Residence in Northern Cities at the Beginning of the Great Migration


Tolnay, Stewart E.; Crowder, Kyle D; .; & Adelman, Robert M. (2002). Race, Regional Origin, and Residence in Northern Cities at the Beginning of the Great Migration. American Sociological Review, 67(3), 456-475.


Southern blacks and whites began moving to northern and western cities in large numbers during the second decade of the twentieth century. City-level and ward-level data for 103 northern and western cities are used, along with the 1920 Public Use Microdata Sample, to investigate variation in neighborhood characteristics by race and migration history in 1920. The results of multi-level analyses reveal sharp differences between blacks and whites in the racial composition and quality of residential neighborhoods, even after controlling for a variety of sociodemographic characteristics. Regional origin also affects neighborhood outcomes, primarily because of the racial differences in the urban locations of southern migrants. Black migrants experienced a relative residential disadvantage because of their greater concentration in cities that constrained their residential opportunities. In contrast, white migrants selected destinations that enhanced their locational attainment. These findings highlight the importance of the larger social and economic context in the structuring of group differences in residential outcomes and point to the need for additional research into the selection of destinations by the participants in the Great Migration.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Sociological Review


Tolnay, Stewart E.
Crowder, Kyle D
Adelman, Robert M.