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Intermetropolitan Migration and Locational Improvement for African American Males, 1970-1990


Crowder, Kyle D; .; Tolnay, Stewart E.; & Adelman, Robert M. (2001). Intermetropolitan Migration and Locational Improvement for African American Males, 1970-1990. Social Science Research, 30(3), 449-472.


Throughout the 20th century African Americans have used migration as a strategy for improving their residential environments and increasing their access to social and economic opportunities. This strategy has taken many forms, including movement from the southern countryside to nearby towns and cities, interregional migration from the South to northern cities, and middle class flight from inner-cities. This paper considers the success of one type of mobility by northern African American males—migration between metropolitan areas. Using census data for 1970, 1980, and 1990 we examine changes in four locational characteristics of metropolitan areas (Black male unemployment, Black family structure, residential segregation, and violent crime) during two time periods (1975–80 and 1985–90). Four groups of Black males are identified: (1) those who remained in the same northern metropolitan area during the 5-year period, (2) those who moved to a different northern metropolitan area, (3) those who moved to a southern metropolitan area, and (4) those who moved to a western metropolitan area. Our findings show that, in general, mobile Black males fared significantly better than those who did not move. Furthermore, the benefits of intermetropolitan migration were not uniform across migrant groups. Overall, migrants to the South enjoyed the greatest locational improvements, followed by migrants to western metropolitan areas. The evidence for migrants within the North was more mixed, in some cases resembling more closely the experience of nonmigrants than the other two migrant groups.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Social Science Research


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