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How Economic Segregation Affects Children's Educational Attainment


  • Susan E. Mayer


Economic segregation increased in the United States between 1970 and 1990. Three hypotheses suggest that this would affect low-income children's educational attainment. The political economy of school funding and predicts that economically segregated school districts reduce the educational attainment of low-income children. Two other hypotheses emphasize the effect of inequality within neighborhoods. But they produce opposite predictions about the effect of economic segregation on educational attainment. None of the hypothesis provides a firm prediction about the effect of economic segregation on overall educational attainment. I combine Census data with data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamic to show that an increase in economic segregation between census tracts in the same state hardly changes overall educational attainment but it exacerbates inequality between high-income and low-income children. With overall inequality held constant changes in economic inequality within census tracts have little effect on low-income children's educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan E. Mayer, 2001. "How Economic Segregation Affects Children's Educational Attainment," JCPR Working Papers 235, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:jopovw:235

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kevin M. Murphy & Finis Welch, 1992. "The Structure of Wages," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 285-326.
    2. repec:fth:prinin:357 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Benabou, Roland, 1996. "Heterogeneity, Stratification, and Growth: Macroeconomic Implications of Community Structure and School Finance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 584-609, June.
    4. T. A. Downes & D. N. Figlio, "undated". "School Finance Reforms, Tax Limits, and Student Performance: Do Reforms Level Up or Dumb Down?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1142-97, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
    5. David Card & Abigail A. Payne, 1997. "School Finance Reform, the Distribution of School Spending, and the Distribution of SAT Scores," Working Papers 766, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    6. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1996. "Labor Market Effects of School Quality: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 736, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    7. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "Labor Market Effects of School Quality: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 5450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
    9. Durlauf, Steven N, 1996. "A Theory of Persistent Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 75-93, March.
    10. Susan E. Mayer, 2001. "How the Growth in Income Inequality Increased Economic Segregation," JCPR Working Papers 230, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
    11. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-872.
    12. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-991, October.
    13. Hanushek, E.A.omson, W., 1996. "Assessing the Effects of School Resources on Student Performance : An Update," RCER Working Papers 424, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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    Cited by:

    1. Miguel Vargas Román, 2012. "Economic Residential Segregation and Educational Achievements: Evidence from Chile," ERSA conference papers ersa12p170, European Regional Science Association.
    2. Linda Loubert, 2005. "Discrimination in education financing," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer;National Economic Association, vol. 32(3), pages 17-27, March.
    3. Lugo, Maria Ana, 2011. "Heterogenous peer effects, segregation and academic attainment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5718, The World Bank.
    4. Oberwittler, Dietrich, 2007. "The effects of ethnic and social segregation on children and adolescents: Recent research and results from a German multilevel study," Discussion Papers, Programme on Intercultural Conflicts and Societal Integration (AKI) SP IV 2007-603, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
    5. Krista Perreira & Kathleen Harris & Dohoon Lee, 2006. "Making it in America: High school completion by immigrant and native youth," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 43(3), pages 511-536, August.

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