Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 1 > Issue 4

The Grapes of Path Dependence: The Long-Run Political Impact of the Dust Bowl Migration

Adam J. Ramey, Division of Social Science, New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates,
Suggested Citation
Adam J. Ramey (2021), "The Grapes of Path Dependence: The Long-Run Political Impact of the Dust Bowl Migration", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 1: No. 4, pp 531-559.

Publication Date: 01 Dec 2021
© 2021 A. J. Ramey
Political history,  Elections,  Electoral Behavior,  Public Opinion
Rural flightpolarizationnatural disastersvoting and electionspublic opinion


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In this article:
The Okie Migration and Aftermath 
Which Way Does the Causal Arrow Point? 
Robustness Checks 


In this paper, we show that the migrations of millions of Americans from the Central Plains to California during the 1930s continues to have a demonstrable effect on political outcomes and behavior today, even after accounting for other relevant geographic and demographic factors. After demonstrating this pattern at the electoral level, we leverage a decade's worth of survey data and show that Hispanics living in areas with large Okie migrations in the 1930s are much more likely to have conservative social values and, importantly, to vote and identify as Republicans. Put together, these results suggest that the historical legacies of migration can have a strong and sustained impact even after nearly a century after the fact.



Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 4 Special Issue - Historical Persistence, Part I: Articles Overview
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.