Was the African American Great Migration Delayed by Outlawing Emigrant Agents?

  • Khayen Prentice La Trobe University
  • László Kónya La Trobe University
  • David Prentice La Trobe University


The question of why the Great Migration from the South did not begin before the 1910s remains open. The empirical significance of laws outlawing emigrant agents, who could have helped African Americans migrate, has not previously been considered. We analyze two natural experiments whereby one state had a law but its neighbor did not. We fail to find any significant effects of the laws. These results are consistent with demand and supply factors highlighted in the earlier literature delaying the Great Migration.