An extensive literature debates the causes and consequences of the desegregation of American schools in the twentieth century. Despite the social importance of desegregation and the magnitude of the literature, we have lacked a comprehensive accounting of the basic facts of school desegregation. This paper uses newly assembled data to document when and how Southern school districts desegregated, as well as the extent of court involvement in the desegregation process over the two full decades after Brown. We also examine heterogeneity in the path to desegregation by district characteristics. The results suggest that the existing quantitative literature, which generally either begins in 1968 and focuses on the role of federal courts in larger urban districts or relies on highly aggregated data, often tells an incomplete story of desegregation.
Discussion Paper Number
Cascio, Elizabeth; Gordon, Nora; Lewis, Ethan; and Reber, Sarah, "From Brown to Busing" (2007). University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research Discussion Paper Series. 101.