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Federal Oversight, Local Control, and the Specter of "Resegregation" in Southern Schools


  • Charles T. Clotfelter
  • Jacob L. Vigdor
  • Helen F. Ladd


Analyzing data for the 100 largest districts in the South and Border states, we ask whether there is evidence of "resegregation" of school districts and whether levels of segregation can be linked to judicial decisions. We distinguish segregation measures based on racial isolation from those based on racial imbalance. Only one measure of racial isolation suggests that districts in these regions experienced resegregation between 1994 and 2004, and changes in this measure appear to be driven largely by the rising nonwhite percentage in the student population rather than by district policies. Although we find no time trend in racial imbalance over this period, we find that variations in racial imbalance across districts are nonetheless associated with judicial declarations of unitary status, suggesting that segregation in schools might have declined had it not been for the actions of federal courts. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles T. Clotfelter & Jacob L. Vigdor & Helen F. Ladd, 2006. "Federal Oversight, Local Control, and the Specter of "Resegregation" in Southern Schools," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 347-389.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:amlawe:v:8:y:2006:i:2:p:347-389

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1999. "Public School Segregation in Metropolitan Areas," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 75(4), pages 487-504.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jacob Vigdor & Jens Ludwig, 2007. "Segregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap," NBER Working Papers 12988, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Nathaniel Baum-Snow & Byron F. Lutz, 2011. "School Desegregation, School Choice, and Changes in Residential Location Patterns by Race," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3019-3046, December.
    3. Rucker C. Johnson, 2011. "Long-run Impacts of School Desegregation & School Quality on Adult Attainments," NBER Working Papers 16664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Byron F. Lutz, 2005. "Post Brown vs. the Board of Education: the effects of the end of court-ordered desegregation," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-64, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    5. Stephen Gibbons & Shqiponja Telhaj, 2007. "Are Schools Drifting Apart? Intake Stratification in English Secondary Schools," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 44(7), pages 1281-1305, June.
    6. repec:eee:regeco:v:68:y:2018:i:c:p:277-290 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Jeffrey M. Weinstein, 2016. "The Impact Of School Racial Compositions On Neighborhood Racial Compositions: Evidence From School Redistricting," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(3), pages 1365-1382, July.
    8. Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "The New Promised Land: Black-White Convergence in the American South, 1960-2000," NBER Working Papers 12143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. David A. Weiner & Byron F. Lutz & Jens Ludwig, 2009. "The Effects of School Desegregation on Crime," NBER Working Papers 15380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Robert Bifulco & Jason Fletcher & Stephen Ross, 2008. "The Effect of Classmate Characteristics on Individual Outcomes: Evidence from the Add Health," Working papers 2008-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2009.

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    JEL classification:

    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy


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