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Interracial Contact in High School Extracurricular Activities

  • Charles T. Clotfelter

Using data from yearbooks for 194 high schools, this study examines the degree of interracial contact in 8,875 high school teams and other organizations. Tabulations show that the degree of interracial exposure was typically less than what would occur if all organizations in each school had been racially balanced and was much less than the exposure that would have occurred if all organizations reflected the racial composition of the schools containing them. Whereas the nonwhite percentage of the students enrolled in the sample high schools was 25.1 percent, the membership of clubs and teams was 21.1 percent, reflecting a lower rate of participation by nonwhites. Furthermore, because the racial compositions of clubs and teams were not uniform, the average white member was in an organization that was only 15.6 percent nonwhite. Although clearly less than its theoretical maximum, this rate of contact nonetheless appears to be much higher than what would occur if friendships were the only vehicle for interracial contact outside the classroom. Finally, the extent of segregation associated with these organizations was the same or less in the South as compared to the rest of the country.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7999.

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Date of creation: Nov 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Clotfelter, Charles T. "Interracial Contact in High School Extracurricular Activities." The Urban Review 34, 1 (March 2002): 24-46.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7999
Note: CH PE
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  1. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1998. "Public School Segregation in Metropolitan Areas," Working Papers 98-12, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  2. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1978. "Alternative Measures of School Desegregation: A Methodological Note," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 54(3), pages 373-380.
  3. Charles T. Clotfelter, 1976. "School Desegregation, "Tipping," and Private School Enrollment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 11(1), pages 28-50.
  4. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1998. "What Has Economics to Say about Racial Discrimination?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 91-100, Spring.
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