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School Desegregation and Educational Attainment for Blacks

  • Sarah J. Reber
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    The desegregation of Southern schools following the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown decision was perhaps the most important innovation in U.S. education policy in the 20th century. This paper assesses the effects of desegregation on its intended beneficiaries, black students. In Louisiana, substantial reductions in segregation between 1965 and 1970 were accompanied by large increases in per-pupil funding. This additional funding was used to "level up" school spending in integrated schools to the level previously experienced only in the white schools. The effects of desegregation on the educational experiences of black students differed substantially depending on the black share of enrollment in the district. For historical reasons, blacks in districts with higher black enrollment shares experienced larger increases in funding, compared to their counterparts in lower black enrollment share districts. On the other hand, blacks in high black enrollment share districts saw smaller increases in exposure to whites (who were higher-income). Blacks in high black enrollment share districts experienced larger improvements in educational attainment, suggesting that the increase in funding associated with desegregation was more important than the increased exposure to whites. A simple cost-benefit calculation suggests that the additional school spending was more than offset by higher earnings due to increased educational attainment. Using a different source of variation and methodology, the results of this paper are consistent with earlier work suggesting that desegregation improved educational attainment for blacks and sheds new light on the potential mechanism behind this improvement in Louisiana: increased funding for blacks' schools.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13193.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13193.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2007
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    Publication status: published as School Desegregation and Educational Attainment for Blacks Sarah J. Reber Journal of Human Resources, 2010, vol. 45, issue 4, pages 893-914
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13193
    Note: ED
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    1. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    2. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
    3. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200, February.
    4. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-60, September.
    5. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "Labor Market Effects of School Quality: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Jonathan Guryan, 2001. "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates," NBER Working Papers 8345, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Orley Ashenfelter & William Collins & Albert Yoon, 2005. "Evaluating the Role of Brown vs. Board of Education in School Equalization, Desegregation, and the Income of African Americans," Working Papers 880, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    8. 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.
    9. Steven G. Rivkin, 2000. "School Desegregation, Academic Attainment, and Earnings," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(2), pages 333-346.
    10. Philip Oreopoulos & Marianne E. Page & Ann Huff Stevens, 2003. "Does Human Capital Transfer from Parent to Child? The Intergenerational Effects of Compulsory Schooling," NBER Working Papers 10164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Janet Currie & Enrico Moretti, 2003. "Mother'S Education And The Intergenerational Transmission Of Human Capital: Evidence From College Openings," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1495-1532, November.
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