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Resegregated Schools, Racial Attitudes, and Long-Run Partisanship: Evidence for White Backlash

Brown v. Board (1954) catalyzed a nationwide effort by the federal judiciary to desegregate public schools by court order, representing a major achievement for the U.S. civil rights movement. Four decades later, courts began dismissing schools from desegregation decrees in a staggered fashion, causing their racial homogeneity to rise. I leverage this exogenous source of variation in the racial mix of schools released from court orders between 1990 and 2014 to explore two key aspects of how whites react to attending schools with students of color. First, contemporaneous survey data indicate that as schools re-segregated, white students in these schools expressed more favorable attitudes towards black and Latino students. Second, present-day voter records from six Southern states of white students in schools that re-segregated show that they are significantly more likely to identify with the more racially liberal party -- the Democrats -- today. The findings are consistent with white students experiencing resegregation as a reduction in social threat, and indicate that school desegregation efforts may have caused life-long shifts among white students toward racial and political conservatism.

School segregation; partisanship; intergroup contact
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Mattia, Taylor . (). Resegregated Schools, Racial Attitudes, and Long-Run Partisanship: Evidence for White Backlash. (EdWorkingPaper: 21-401). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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