Understanding the Long-Run Effects of School Desegregation on Political and Social Preferences

Awarded Scholars:
Jörg Spenkuch, Northwestern University
Ethan Kaplan, University of Maryland, College Park
Cody Tuttle, Princeton University
Project Date:
Feb 2021
Award Amount:
$50,000

Little research has assessed the impacts of forced school desegregation on individuals’ ideological views, social preferences, or racial attitudes. Political economist Jörg Spenkuch and his colleagues will collect and analyze data on thousands of students who participated in a natural experiment in Louisville, KY, when a federal court ordered that the Louisville and Jefferson County public school systems be merged and desegregated in 1974. The investigators will survey an expected sample of 1,000-1,200 from every white person who: 1) appears in yearbooks from public middle and high schools in Jefferson County from 1970-1974, and 2) can be matched to the nationwide voter registration data, which contains contact information. The survey will elicit views on race, discrimination, affirmative action, redistribution, issues like abortion and gay marriage, and political beliefs. RSF funds will be used to increase the sample size and expand the survey to cover additional topics such as trust in government, support for government welfare programs, attitudes towards racial inequality, views on racial bias in policing, and support for the Black Lives Matter Movement.

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