Do Families Choose Segregation? The Impact of Local Education Market Composition on School Segregation

Student Author(s)

Kaylee Kish

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Sarah Estelle

Document Type


Event Date



Recent school choice policies have raised important questions about the potential unintended consequences of competition among schools. This paper investigates the effect of the composition of a local education market as characterized by the number and type of schools nearby and the subsequent levels of segregation in each of the schools. Variation in preferences, values, and resources lead individual families to choose different types of schools, such as private, public and charter, for their student. I predict that these motivating factors will be consistent within racial groups, for example Hispanics attending Catholic schools in higher proportions due to the correlation between their race and religious preferences. Using panel data on K-12 schools in the US including precise geographic location, I estimate the impact on a given school’s racial composition of nearby schools. This research accounts for endogenous school location decisions by controlling for observable time-varying school characteristics as well as time-invariant unobservables through school fixed effects. This empirical analysis will provide policymakers with more information about how the composition of a local education market influences the segregation levels of schools in that market.

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