NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

School Segregation, Educational Attainment and Crime: Evidence from the end of busing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Stephen B. Billings, David J. Deming, Jonah E. Rockoff

NBER Working Paper No. 18487
Issued in October 2012
NBER Program(s):   CH   DAE   ED

We study the impact of the end of race-based busing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools (“CMS”) on academic achievement, educational attainment, and young adult crime. In 2001, CMS was prohibited from using race in assigning students to schools. School boundaries were redrawn dramatically to reflect the surrounding neighborhoods, and half of its students received a new assignment. Using addresses measured prior to the policy change, we compare students in the same neighborhood that lived on opposite sides of a newly drawn boundary. We find that both white and minority students score lower on high school exams when they are assigned to schools with more minority students. We also find decreases in high school graduation and four-year college attendance for whites, and large increases in crime for minority males. The impacts on achievement and attainment are smaller in younger cohorts, while the impact on crime remains large and persistent for at least nine years after the re-zoning. We show that compensatory resource allocation policies in CMS likely played an important role in mitigating the impact of segregation on achievement and attainment, but had no impact on crime. We conclude that the end of busing widened racial inequality, despite efforts by CMS to mitigate the impact of increases in segregation.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18487

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