Ending to what end? The impact of the termination of court desegregation orders on patterns of residential segregation and school dropout rates


In the early 1990s, the Supreme Court established standards to facilitate the release of school districts from racial desegregation orders. Over the next two decades, federal courts declared almost half of all districts under court order in 1991 to be “unitary”—that is, to have met their obligations to eliminate dual systems of education. I leverage a comprehensive dataset of all districts that were under court order in 1991 to assess the national effects of the termination of desegregation orders on indices of residential-racial segregation and high-school dropout rates. I conclude that the release from court orders moderately increased the short-term rates of Hispanic–White residential segregation. Furthermore, the declaration of districts as unitary increased rates of 16- to 19-year-old school dropouts by around 1 percentage point for Blacks, particularly those residing outside the South, and 3 percentage points for Hispanics.

Last updated on 07/03/2018