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From Separate and Unequal to Integrated and Equal? School Desegregation and School Finance in Louisiana

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  • Sarah J. Reber

Abstract

An important goal of the desegregation of schools following the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education was to improve the quality of the schools black children attended. This paper uses a new dataset to examine the effects of desegregation on public and private enrollment and the system of school finance for Louisiana. I show that the system of school finance in Louisiana had long favored whites in high black enrollment share districts. Because of this system, whites in districts with high black enrollment shares stood to lose the most from desegregation, as the gap between white student-teacher ratios and black student-teacher ratios in those districts was higher. Given the importance of districts' black enrollment share in the system of finance and the potential impact of desegregation, I examine how changes in public and private enrollment, the local property tax base, and per-pupil revenue relate to the initial black enrollment share. The analysis suggests that the Jim-Crow system of school finance -- which had prevailed for over 60 years -- unraveled as the schools desegregated. While desegregation did induce some "white flight" and reduce the local property tax base slightly, the policies had the intended effect of reducing black-white gaps in school resources, as increased funding allowed districts to "level up" average spending in integrated schools to that previously experienced only in the white schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah J. Reber, 2007. "From Separate and Unequal to Integrated and Equal? School Desegregation and School Finance in Louisiana," NBER Working Papers 13192, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13192
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gordon, Nora, 2004. "Do federal grants boost school spending? Evidence from Title I," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1771-1792, August.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:57:y:1963:i:02:p:355-367_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1975. "The Effect of School Desegregation on Housing Prices," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 57(4), pages 446-451, November.
    4. 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.
    5. repec:cup:apsrev:v:57:y:1963:i:01:p:24-44_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Fisher, Ronald C. & Papke, Leslie E., 2000. "Local Government Responses to Education Grants," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association;National Tax Journal, vol. 53(1), pages 153-168, March.
    7. Michael A. Boozer & Alan B. Krueger & Shari Wolkon, 1992. "Race and School Quality Since Brown vs. Board of Education," Working Papers 681, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    8. Jonathan Guryan, 2004. "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 919-943, September.
    9. Fisher, Ronald C. & Papke, Leslie E., 2000. "Local Government Responses to Education Grants," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 53(n. 1), pages 153-68, March.
    10. James R. Hines & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "The Flypaper Effect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 217-226, Fall.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Simon Burgess & Deborah Wilson & Adam Briggs & Anete Piebalga, 2008. "Segregation and the Attainment of Minority Ethnic Pupils in England," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/204, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    3. 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.
    4. Liu, Sze Yan & Linkletter, Crystal D. & Loucks, Eric B. & Glymour, M. Maria & Buka, Stephen L., 2012. "Decreased births among black female adolescents following school desegregation," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(7), pages 982-988.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H71 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
    • H72 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Budget and Expenditures
    • H75 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - State and Local Government: Health, Education, and Welfare
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid

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