Panel Paper: School Segregation, Educational Attainment and Crime Evidence From the End of Busing In Charlotte-Mecklenburg

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 11:15 AM
Salon A (Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

David Deming, Harvard University, Stephen Billings, University of North Carolina, Charlotte and Jonah Rockoff, Columbia University

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 declared unitary and prohibited from using race in assigning students to schools. School boundaries were redrawn dramatically to reflect the surrounding neighborhoods, and about half of students received a new school assignment. Using addresses measured prior to the policy change, we compare students who lived in the same neighborhoods but experienced a different change in school racial composition because they lived on opposite sides of a newly drawn boundary. We find that the resegregation of CMS schools widened the black-white gap in high school math scores. We also find large increases in crime for poor minority males and increases in high school graduation and college attendance for white students. While differences in teacher effectiveness could explain some share of the test score impact, the pattern of results for educational attainment and crime is most likely driven by changes in peer interactions. We conclude that the end of busing widened black-white inequality, despite efforts by CMS to mitigate the impact of increases in segregation.