Panel Paper: The Impact of Low-Skilled Immigration on Native Student School Choice Outcomes: Does School Choice Lead to Increased Segregation in Public Schools?

Friday, April 7, 2017 : 4:00 PM
Founders Hall Room 478 (George Mason University Schar School of Policy)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Thomas P Krumel, University of Connecticut
Economic theory on school choice suggests that competition leads to an efficient outcome, where sorting or stratification does not occur when school districts are unable to select students based on characteristics. State statutes do prevent schools from selectively choosing students who are attempting to utilize interdistrict open enrollment programs;  however, socioeconomically advantaged students tend to utilize the program at a disproportionate rate to their low-income, at-risk students peers. Based on previous empirical estimations, at-risk students included limited English proficiency students, which can be assumed to be immigrants. Since there is some indication that immigration sorting does appear to be occurring in interdistrict open enrollment, both through the theoretical derivations and the empirical results, if left uncontrolled for, an inconsistent and biased estimation would ensue when attempting to determine the impact of immigration of interdistrict open enrollment. As such, attention needs to be given to the development of an appropriate instrumental variable (IV) to control for immigration sorting. The identification strategy that I am proposing for my IV is very similar to Cascio and Lewis (2012) in that it is also related to Hispanic settlement patterns; however, I believe that it does a better job in teasing out specifically, low-skilled Hispanic settlement patterns. Aggregating establishment-level employment data to the school district-level, I will utilize an industry that has come under considerable scrutiny, in both the Economic and Demographic literature on community impacts of low-skilled immigration, the meatpacking industry. From the 1970's to today, the industry structure of the meatpacking industry has undergone considerable changes. These changes have led meatpacking to become one of the highest concentration employers of immigrant Hispanic labor in the United States. This empirical study will examine rural school districts in the state of Minnesota. The reason that Minnesota is being examined is that it represents that the highest concentration of total employment in the meatpacking industry, as well as having extremely detailed school district-level data publicly available through the Minnesota Department of Education. Additionally, Minnesota was the first state enact an interdistrict open enrollment program and is one of the most studied states in the education literature on interdistrict open enrollment. This means that comparable baseline results will be generated. Preliminary regression results indicate that there is suggestive evidence of native flight from school districts with a high concentration in meatpacking. Balancing tests and counterfactuals are currently being developed to help validate these preliminary results. Based on the care in developing the appropriate IV to control for the endogeneity of immigrant sorting and based the steps to validate this instrument, this study will make a significant contribution to the literature in determining whether school choice is a policy that is making school districts more segregated.