Internal migration--the redistribution of a country's people--is the spatial response of a population to demographic, economic, and social change. Sometimes change is so swift and intense in all these areas that it reshapes the national landscape. World War II was one of these galvanizing periods. During this major restructuring of the U.S. economy, black migration reached a historic high, white migration increased substantially following a half-century of decline, and second generation immigrants moved beyond the industrial core. By examining differences in these migration patterns, this study adds to our understanding of the social dynamics of the post-war period and fills the gap between two bodies of scholarly literature that could--but have not yet--been in conversation.
One body of research locates origins of contemporary economic behavior and social inclusion in the World War II era. Some authors focus on the G.I. Bill and civic inclusion, others on the post-war clash of racial and ethnic groups in specific communities. This research largely ignores migration, analyzing populations where they are found after the war. Similarly, despite renewed scholarly interest in the migration of racial and ethnic groups in the United States, virtually no attention has been paid to the post-World War II period or to veteran status as a selective factor.
To draw these scholarly threads together, I traced the evolution of veteran status as a predictor of internal migration prior to World War II. I then explored the influence of veteran status on post-war migration of three populations: whites with native-born parents, whites with foreign-born parents, and blacks. Using census microdata from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), I tracked migration levels and destinations to evaluate the extent to which each group was incorporated into the post-war economic and social order. Higher rates of internal migration were found for veterans but veteran status did not trump existing social hierarchies. Veteran gain to migration varied relative to the group's place in the pre-war social order. Thus social distance between whites with native-born and foreign-born parents was reduced in the post-war years, while that between whites and blacks increased.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. March 2009. Major: History. Advisor: Steven Ruggles. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 231 pages, appendices I-II.
Hall, Patricia Kelly.
Privileged moves: migration, race and veteran status in post-World War II America..
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