Interracial Contact in High School Extracurricular Activities

Charles T. Clotfelter

NBER Working Paper No. 7999
Issued in November 2000
NBER Program(s):Children, Public Economics

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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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w7999

Published: Clotfelter, Charles T. "Interracial Contact in High School Extracurricular Activities." The Urban Review 34, 1 (March 2002): 24-46.

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