Wednesday, November 4, 2009

School Integration and Crime

A recent economics paper shows that the court-mandated school desegregation of the 70's reduced the rate of homicides among Black youth by about 25%.  It also shows that the rate of homicides among whites was either unaffected or slightly lowered by the desegregation.

The research looks good.  If it is right, as I assume it is, then it means that tens of thousands of lives were saved by this action.  This is extremely important, and suggests that it was a very good thing even though it didn't do much to improve the academic performance of blacks.

These results are not too surprising when you consider that, in practice, school has more to do with socialization than academic knowledge.  The results suggest that the busing took children out of a bad social environment and put them into a better one, with the result that they both committed fewer crimes and were less likely to be the victim of crimes.  And, contrary to the dire predictions made at the time, the process didn't do any harm to the white community.

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