James P. Smith and Finis R. Welch, along with fellow economist Richard B. Freeman, have been primarily responsible for the much accepted notion that there have been “dramatic” advances in the economic situation of blacks in the recent past. Closing The Gap: 40 Years of Economic Progress for Blacks (CTG) is just the latest installment and reworking of this optimism. Freeman attributed the alleged progress to a “collapse” of labor market discrimination caused by “governmental and related antidiscrimination activity associated with the 1964 Civil Rights Act.” Smith and Welch, on the other hand, have always been somewhat agnostic about the efficacy of affirmative action. Instead, they have consistently sought to show that the longrun progress they claim for blacks has been due to two major factors: the improvement in the quantity and quality of black education and the great North to South, rural to urban, migration undertaken by blacks during the 1940s, '50s and '60s.


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