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Income Inequality: Economic Segregation and Children's Educational Attainment


  • Susan E. Mayer


Households became more geographically segregated by income in the United States between 1970 and 1990. Research shows that growing up in a poor neighborhood is associated with worse outcomes for children. This suggests that economic segregation may be harmful to children. Economic inequality also increased between 1970 and 1980. Theoretical arguments suggest that the increase in inequality led to the increase in segregation. Using 1970, 1980 and 1990 Census data, I find that an increase in income inequality at the state level is associated with an increased in economic segregation between census tracts in the state. However, economic inequality between households in the same census tract hardly changed between 1970 and 1990. I then combine Census data with data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamic to show that given a constant level of economic inequality in a state, an increase in economic segregation between tracts in the same state increases affluent children's educational attainment but reduces poor children's educational attainment. Therefore segregation between census tracts increases inequality in educational attainment and may therefore increase inequality in the next generation. Economic inequality within census tracts has little effect on high or low-income children's educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan E. Mayer, 2000. "Income Inequality: Economic Segregation and Children's Educational Attainment," Working Papers 0026, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:har:wpaper:0026

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote & José A. Scheinkman, 1996. "Crime and Social Interactions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 507-548.
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    3. Chamberlain, Gary & Rothschild, Michael, 1981. "A note on the probability of casting a decisive vote," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 152-162, August.
    4. Howard Margolis, 1977. "Probability of a tie election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 135-138, September.
    5. Fischer, A J, 1999. "The Probability of Being Decisive," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 101(3-4), pages 267-283, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bayer, Patrick & Fang, Hanming & McMillan, Robert, 2014. "Separate when equal? Racial inequality and residential segregation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 32-48.


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