What Determines School Segregation? The Crucial Role of Neighborhood Factors
We develop a novel strategy to identify the relative importance of school and neighborhood factors in determining school segregation. Using detailed student enrollment and residential location data, our research design compares differences in student composition between adjacent Census blocks served by different schools to analogous differences between those schools. Our findings indicate that neighborhood factors explain around 62% of racial segregation and 44% of economic segregation across all schools, playing an even more pronounced role in urban areas, where school segregation has been especially acute. These findings suggest that the involvement of urban planners is essential when attempting to confront inequality of opportunity through education.
We would like to thank Patrick Bayer, Charles Clotfelter, Richard Disalvo, David Slichter, Maisy Wong, participants at the Society of Labor Economists annual meeting, NBER Summer Institute, Urban Economics Association annual meeting and APPAM Fall Research Conference, and anonymous referees for helpful comments and suggestions. Robert Dominy provided excellent research assistance. Caetano acknowledges support from the Bonbright Center at the University of Georgia. All remaining errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.