skip navigation

Economics Seminar Series – Gregorio Caetano, University of Rochester

Explaining Recent Trends in US School Segregation: 1988-2014
Friday, October 27th, 2017, 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Fronczak 444

Abstract: We document and analyze trends in public school segregation throughout the United States from 1988 to 2014. While predominantly minority schools have increased in prevalence, predominantly white schools have decreased in prevalence at a faster rate. Overall, the majority of commuting zones in the US have experienced decreasing levels of school segregation measured in a variety of ways, and regional patterns in these trends point to changing demographics primarily due to Hispanic immigration as an important cause. We develop an empirical framework to analyze segregation in a non-stationary environment (e.g., one that is undergoing demographic change) that explicitly accounts for general equilibrium effects and endogenous social effects due to discrimination, and we conclude that 90% of the observed desegregation of White schools and 59% of the observed segregation of minority schools can be attributed to the immediate effects of demographic shocks. In recent decades, the gradual discriminatory process of segregation has been dwarfed by systematic inflows of minorities throughout the country and has been dampened by general equilibrium effects within local schooling markets. In the absence of demographic change (e.g., under immigration restrictions), we find that school segregation would eventually increase substantially in most regions.