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The Importance of Segregation, Discrimination, Peer Dynamics, and Identity in Explaining Trends in the Racial Achievement Gap

  • Roland G. Fryer, Jr

After decades of narrowing, the achievement gap between black and white school children widened in the 1990s - a period when the labor market rewards for education were increasing. This presents an important puzzle for economists. In this chapter, I investigate the extent to which economic models of segregation, information-based discrimination, peer dynamics, and identity can explain this puzzle. Under a reasonable set of assumptions, models of peer dynamics and identity are consistent with the time-series data. Segregation and models of discrimination both contradict the trends in important ways.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16257.

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Date of creation: Aug 2010
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Publication status: published as “The Importance of Segregation, Discrimination, Peer Dynamics, and Identity in Explaining Trends in the Racial Achievement Gap,” [forthcoming in Handbook of Social Economics]
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16257
Note: LS
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  1. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," Working Paper Series 476, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  2. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 767-805, August.
  3. Lundberg, Shelly J & Startz, Richard, 1983. "Private Discrimination and Social Intervention in Competitive Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(3), pages 340-47, June.
  4. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Jonathan Guryan, 2004. "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 919-943, September.
  7. David Card & Jesse Rothstein, 2005. "Racial Segregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap," Working Papers 93, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  8. David Austen-Smith & Roland G. Fryer, 2003. "The Economics of 'Acting White'," NBER Working Papers 9904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Fryer, Roland & Echenique, Federico, 2007. "A Measure of Segregation Based on Social Interactions," Scholarly Articles 2958220, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  10. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, 1997. "Weighing the “burden of 'acting white'”: Are there race differences in attitudes toward education?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(2), pages 256-278.
  11. Roland G. Fryer, Jr., 2006. "A Model of Social Interactions and Endogenous Poverty Traps," NBER Working Papers 12364, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Federico Echenique & Roland G. Fryer Jr & Alex Kaufman, 2006. "Is School Segregation Good or Bad?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 265-269, May.
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