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Does School Integration Generate Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program

  • Angrist, Joshua

    ()

    (MIT)

  • Lang, Kevin

    ()

    (Boston University)

Most integration programs transfer students between schools within districts. In this paper, we study Metco, a long-running desegregation program that sends mostly Black students out of the Boston public school district to attend schools in more affluent suburban districts. Metco increases the number of Black students in receiving districts dramatically. Because Metco students have substantially lower test scores than local students, this inflow generates a significant decline in scores, with an especially marked effect on the lower quantiles. This paper investigates the impact of Metco on receiving districts. Aggregate data on schools from districts throughout Massachusetts and micro data from a single large district strongly suggest the impact of Metco is largely a composition effect, since OLS estimates show no impact on average scores in samples of White or non-Metco students. On the other hand, OLS estimates using micro data show some evidence of an effect on the scores of minority 3rd graders in Reading and Language. Instrumental variables estimates for 3rd graders are imprecise but generally in line with OLS. Further analysis shows the negative effects on 3rd graders to be clearly present only for girls. Given the highly localized nature of these results, we conclude that any peer effects from Metco are modest and short-lived.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 976.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2004
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Economic Review, 2004, 94 (5), 1613-1634
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp976
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  12. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-64, June.
  13. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1999. "Are Whites Still "Fleeing"? Racial Patterns and Enrollment Shifts in Urban Public Schools, 1987-1996," NBER Working Papers 7290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  15. Michael A. Boozer & Alan B. Krueger & Shari Wolkon, 1992. "Race and School Quality Since Brown vs. Board of Education," NBER Working Papers 4109, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1998. "Private School Vouchers And Student Achievement: An Evaluation Of The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(2), pages 553-602, May.
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