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Racial Segregation and the Black-White Test Score Gap

  • David Card
  • Jesse Rothstein

Racial segregation is often blamed for part of the achievement gap between blacks and whites. In this paper we study the effects of school and neighborhood segregation on the relative SAT scores of black students across different metropolitan areas, using large microdata samples for the 1998-2001 test cohorts. Without controlling for neighborhood segregation, we find that school segregation is negatively associated with black relative test scores, and also with relative education and employment outcomes measured in the 2000 Census. In models that include both school and neighborhood segregation, however, the effect of relative exposure to black schoolmates is uniformly small and statistically insignificant, while neighborhood segregation has a strong negative effect. Instrumental variables estimates that isolate the components of school segregation associated with court-ordered desegregation plans or the geographic features of a city are consistent with this result but imprecise. Models that include school segregation, neighborhood segregation, and measures of the relative exposure of blacks to other characteristics of their neighbors (e.g., education and income) show weaker effects of neighborhood segregation, suggesting that the socio-economic status of neighbors, rather than their race, may be the primary source of these effects.

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File URL: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01jh343s306
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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 879.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:dsp01jh343s306
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