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School Boards and Student Segregation

Listed author(s):
  • Hugh Macartney
  • John D. Singleton

This paper provides the first causal evidence about how elected local school boards affect student segregation across schools. The key identification challenge is that the composition of a school board is potentially correlated with unobserved determinants of school segregation, such as the pattern of household sorting and the degree to which boards are geographically constrained in defining zones of attendance. We overcome this issue using a regression discontinuity design at the electoral contest level, exploiting quasi-random variation from narrowly-decided elections. Such an approach is made possible by a unique dataset, which combines matched information about North Carolina school board candidates (including vote shares and political affiliation) with time-varying district-level racial and economic segregation outcomes. Focusing on the political composition of school board members, two-stage least squares estimates reveal that (relative to their non-Democrat counterparts) Democrat board members decrease racial segregation across schools. These estimates significantly differ from their ordinary least squares counterparts, indicating that the latter are biased upward (understating the effects). Our findings suggest that school boards realize such reductions in segregation by shifting attendance zones, a novel measure of which we construct without the need for exact geocoded boundaries. While the effect of adjusting boundaries does not appear to be offset by within-district neighborhood re-sorting in the short run, we uncover causal evidence of “white flight” out of public schools in districts in which boards have acted to reduce segregation.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w23619.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23619.

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Date of creation: Jul 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23619
Note: CH ED LS PE
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  1. Bryan S. Graham, 2008. "Identifying Social Interactions Through Conditional Variance Restrictions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 643-660, 05.
  2. Fernando Ferreira & Joseph Gyourko, 2009. "Do Political Parties Matter? Evidence from U.S. Cities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 399-422.
  3. Stephen B. Billings & Jonah Rockoff, 2014. "School Segregation, Educational Attainment, and Crime: Evidence from the End of Busing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 435-476.
  4. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599.
  5. 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, July.
  6. Patrick Bayer & Fernando Ferreira & Robert McMillan, 2007. "A Unified Framework for Measuring Preferences for Schools and Neighborhoods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115(4), pages 588-638, 08.
  7. Sebastian Calonico & Matias D. Cattaneo & Rocio Titiunik, 2014. "Robust Nonparametric Confidence Intervals for Regression‐Discontinuity Designs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 2295-2326, November.
  8. Rucker C. Johnson, 2011. "Long-run Impacts of School Desegregation & School Quality on Adult Attainments," NBER Working Papers 16664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2014. "Measuring the Impacts of Teachers II: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2633-2679, September.
  10. Cascio, Elizabeth & Gordon, Nora & Lewis, Ethan & Reber, Sarah, 2008. "From Brown to busing," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 296-325, September.
  11. David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859.
  12. Barrow, Lisa, 2002. "School choice through relocation: evidence from the Washington, D.C. area," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 155-189, November.
  13. Brian Beach & Daniel B. Jones, 2017. "Gridlock: Ethnic Diversity in Government and the Provision of Public Goods," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 112-136, February.
  14. repec:hrv:faseco:30749606 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416-416.
  16. Patrick Bayer & Fernando Ferreira & Robert McMillan, 2004. "Tiebout Sorting, Social Multipliers and the Demand for School Quality," NBER Working Papers 10871, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. repec:cup:apsrev:v:78:y:1984:i:02:p:392-403_25 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. Shamena Anwar & Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson, 2012. "The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 1017-1055.
  20. Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2006. "Preferences and Heterogeneous Treatment Effects in a Public School Choice Lottery," NBER Working Papers 12145, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Jane Cooley Fruehwirth, 2013. "Identifying peer achievement spillovers: Implications for desegregation and the achievement gap," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 4(1), pages 85-124, March.
  22. Sarah J. Reber, 2005. "Court Ordered Desegregation: Successes and Failures Integrating American Schools since Brown versus Board of Education," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
  23. Byron Lutz, 2011. "The End of Court-Ordered Desegregation," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 130-168, May.
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