Reparations are an historically rare but potentially powerful policy tool for compensating racial, ethnic, and Indigenous groups for historical injustices. In addition to having an immediate impact on a family’s economic standing, financial reparations can also improve the financial well-being of future generations by spurring investment in education and increasing asset ownership. This study examines a unique historical episode in which members of the Eastern Cherokee tribe were awarded financial restitution in 1905 after forced removal and relocation in the 1830s. A third of the approximately 90,000 individuals who applied were deemed eligible, and the average household received $372 ($10,830 in 2021 dollars). This study will estimate the immediate and long-term effects of these payments on economic and social outcomes for direct recipients and their children and grandchildren. It will also explore whether reparations increased self-identification as Native American. The team will use an instrumental variable approach to estimate the immediate and long-term effects of these payments on economic and social outcomes for direct recipients and their children and grandchildren. The study draws from two primary data sources: 1) digitized images of the original documents included in the 45,857 applications submitted to the reparations fund, and 2) a complete count U.S. Census data from 1900–1950. Ultimately, findings could shed light on the potential of reparations to mitigate the intergenerational effects of forced removal and relocation on the economic and social outcomes of Native Americans across generations.
What are the short- and long-term effects of cash reparations on recipients, their dependent children, and future generations?