Intergenerational altruism in the migration decision calculus: evidence from the African American Great Migration

  • John GardnerEmail author
Original Paper


It is widely believed that many migrations are undertaken at least in part for the benefit of future generations. To provide evidence on the effect of intergenerational altruism on migration, I estimate a dynamic residential location choice model of the African American Great Migration in which individuals take the welfare of future generations into account when deciding to remain in the Southern USA or migrate to the North. I measure the influence of altruism on the migration decision as the implied difference between the migration probabilities of altruistic individuals and myopic ones who consider only current-generation utility when making their location decisions. My preferred estimates suggest that intergenerational altruism explains between 24 and 42% of the Northward migration that took place during the period that I study, depending on the generation.


Altruism Intergenerational altruism Migration Immigration Great migration Dynamic discrete choice 

JEL Classification

J61 D64 R23 



I thank Robert Miller, George-Levi Gayle, four anonymous reviewers, and the editor for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MississippiOxfordUSA

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