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

  • Angrist, Joshua



  • 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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  1. Joshua D. Angrist & Kevin Lang, 2002. "How Important are Classroom Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program," NBER Working Papers 9263, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. repec:oup:qjecon:v:115:y:2000:i:3:p:1019-1055 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 2009. "New Evidence about Brown v. Board of Education: The Complex Effects of School Racial Composition on Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 349-383, 07.
  4. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2000. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 1019-1055.
  6. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200.
  7. Stephen G. Donald & Kevin Lang, 2007. "Inference with Difference-in-Differences and Other Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 221-233, May.
  8. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1998. "Private School Vouchers and Student Achievement: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 553-602.
  9. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:2:p:607-654 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-91, October.
  11. 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.
  12. Edward P. Lazear, 2001. "Educational Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 777-803.
  13. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1997. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 5888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  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. Jonathan Guryan, 2001. "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates," NBER Working Papers 8345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. repec:oup:qjecon:v:116:y:2001:i:3:p:777-803 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. repec:oup:qjecon:v:107:y:1992:i:1:p:151-200 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. repec:oup:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:2:p:553-602 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Steven G. Rivkin, 2000. "School Desegregation, Academic Attainment, and Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(2), pages 333-346.
  22. Lawrence F. Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Moving to Opportunity in Boston: Early Results of a Randomized Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 607-654.
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