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Public School Choice and Integration: Evidence from Durham, North Carolina

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  • Robert Bifulco

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Helen F. Ladd

    (Duke University)

  • Stephen Ross

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

Using evidence from Durham, North Carolina, we examine the impact of school choice programs on racial and class-based segregation across schools. Theoretical considerations suggest that how choice programs affect segregation will depend not only on the family preferences emphasized in the sociology literature but also on the linkages between student composition, school quality and student achievement emphasized in the economics literature. Reasonable assumptions about the distribution of preferences over race, class, and school characteristics suggest that the segregating choices of students from advantaged backgrounds are likely to outweigh any integrating choices by disadvantaged students. The results of our empirical analysis are consistent with these theoretical considerations. Using information on the actual schools students attend and on the schools in their assigned attendance zones, we find that schools in Durham are more segregated by race and class as a result of school choice programs than they would be if all students attended their geographically assigned schools. In addition, we find that the effects of choice on segregation by class are larger than the effects on segregation by race.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Bifulco & Helen F. Ladd & Stephen Ross, 2007. "Public School Choice and Integration: Evidence from Durham, North Carolina," Working papers 2007-41, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jun 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2007-41
    Note: The authors wish to thank Clara Muschkin for comments on the paper and Justin Knight for his efforts as a research assistant. We would also like to acknowledge the assistance and support received from North Carolina Education Research Data Center, especially Gary Thompson's assistance with student address data, from Bill Bartholomay at Durham Public Schools at the City of Durham, and from Rob Cushman from City of Durham Technology Solutions.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stephen L. Ross, 2005. "The Continuing Practice and Impact of Discrimination," Working papers 2005-19, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2006.
    2. Ihlanfeldt, Keith R. & Scafidi, Benjamin, 2002. "Black Self-Segregation as a Cause of Housing Segregation: Evidence from the Multi-City Study of Urban Inequality," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 366-390, March.
    3. Cullen, Julie Berry & Jacob, Brian A. & Levitt, Steven D., 2005. "The impact of school choice on student outcomes: an analysis of the Chicago Public Schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 729-760, June.
    4. Eric Brunner & Jennifer Imazeki & Stephen L. Ross, 2006. "Universal Vouchers and Racial Segregation," Working papers 2006-01, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Aug 2008.
    5. Patrick Bayer & Robert McMillan & Kim Rueben, 2004. "Residential Segregation in General Equilibrium," Working Papers 885, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    6. King, A Thomas & Mieszkowski, Peter, 1973. "Racial Discrimination, Segregation, and the Price of Housing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(3), pages 590-606, May-June.
    7. John Yinger, 1978. "The Black-White Price Differential in Housing: Some Further Evidence," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 54(2), pages 187-206.
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    9. Clotfelter, Charles T., 1979. "Urban school desegregation and declines in white enrollment: A reexamination," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 352-370, July.
    10. Robert Bifulco & Helen F. Ladd, 2007. "School choice, racial segregation, and test-score gaps: Evidence from North Carolina's charter school program*," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(1), pages 31-56.
    11. Schelling, Thomas C, 1969. "Models of Segregation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(2), pages 488-493, May.
    12. Edward P. Lazear, 2001. "Educational Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 777-803.
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    15. George C. Galster, 1982. "Black and White Preferences for Neighborhood Racial Composition," Real Estate Economics, American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association, vol. 10(1), pages 39-66.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gerdes, Christer, 2010. "Does Immigration Induce ‘Native Flight’ from Public Schools? Evidence from a large scale voucher program," SULCIS Working Papers 2010:1, Stockholm University, Linnaeus Center for Integration Studies - SULCIS.
    2. Cory Koedel & Julian R. Betts & Lorien A. Rice & Andrew C. Zau, 2009. "The Social Cost of Open Enrollment as a School Choice Policy," Working Papers 0906, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 13 Apr 2010.
    3. Robert Bifulco & Jason Fletcher & Stephen Ross, 2008. "The Effect of Classmate Characteristics on Individual Outcomes: Evidence from the Add Health," Working papers 2008-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2009.
    4. Claudia Schuchart & Kerstin Schneider & Horst Weishaupt & Andrea Riedel, 2011. "Welchen Einfluss hat die Wohnumgebung auf die Grundschulwahl von Eltern? Analysen zur Bedeutung von kontextuellen und familiären Merkmalen auf das Wahlverhalten," Schumpeter Discussion Papers sdp11009, Universitätsbibliothek Wuppertal, University Library.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    School Choice; Segregation; Sorting;

    JEL classification:

    • H31 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Household
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • R28 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Government Policy

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