Did North Carolina Economically Breed-Out Blacks During its Historical Eugenic Sterilization Campaign?

American Review of Political Economy

Gregory N. Price*
William Darity Jr.**
Rhonda V. Sharpe***
June 28, 2020

Abstract Evidence exists that the state of North Carolina’s eugenic sterilization program was racially biased insofar as it specifically targeted black Americans. In this paper, we consider the extent to which state-sanctioned eugenic sterilization in North Carolina was motivated by a desire to reduce the size of a presumably genetically unfit and unproductive surplus population. We utilize data on 2,163 eugenic sterilizations in the state of North Carolina 1958 – 1968i . Count data parameter estimates from a specification that conditions county-level eugenic sterilizations on measures of race-specific components of the surplus population reveals that the number of state-sanctioned eugenic sterilizations increased only with a county’s black surplus population. Our results suggest that over the 1958-1968 time period North Carolina’s eugenic sterilization was apparently tailored to asymptotically breeding-out the offspring of a presumably genetically unfit and undesirable surplus black population. This suggests that the presumption of genetic inferiority was unique to, and a burden born by blacks, as only their eugenic sterilizations in North Carolina were a function of their surplus population shares.

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