Journal of Historical Political Economy > Vol 1 > Issue 3

Old South, New Deal: How the Legacy of Slavery Undermined the New Deal

Soumyajit Mazumder, Independent Scholar, USA,
Suggested Citation
Soumyajit Mazumder (2021), "Old South, New Deal: How the Legacy of Slavery Undermined the New Deal", Journal of Historical Political Economy: Vol. 1: No. 3, pp 447-475.

Publication Date: 23 Nov 2021
© 2021 S. Mazumder
American political development
Labor coercionraceAmerican political developmentredistributionslavery


Login to download a free copy
In this article:
Theoretical Expectations: Labor Coercion and Redistribution 
New Deal, Old South 
Research Design 


How and to what degree did slavery shape the reach of the American state? Building on existing literatures, I develop and test the hypothesis that slavery shaped the development of the American welfare state by creating highly labor coercive societies. To test the argument, I focus on the New Deal period of the United States — one of the largest expansions of the American state in American history — as a window into understanding the link between labor coercion and redistribution. I assemble a dataset using historical census data combined with detailed, program-by-county level New Deal spending data across the U.S. South and use an instrumental variables identification strategy to establish causality. Results show strong evidence for the argument and hypothesized mechanism. These results indicate the importance of interaction between history, local politics, and national state expansion.



Journal of Historical Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 3 Special Issue - Slavery and Its Legacies: Articles Overview
See the other articles that are part of this special issue.