Discussion Paper Details

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Title: The Top-Ten Way to Integrate High Schools

Author(s): Fernanda Estevan, Thomas Gall, Patrick Legros and Andrew Newman

Publication Date: March 2017

Keyword(s): affirmative action, college admission, education, general equilibrium, high school integration, Matching and Texas Top Ten Percent

Programme Area(s): Industrial Organization

Abstract: We investigate the effects of "top-N percent" policies in college admission on ethnic diversity at the high-school level. These policies produce incentives for students to relocate to schools with weaker academic competition. We provide theoretical conditions under which such school arbitrage will contribute to the desegregation of high schools. Along the way, we show that arbitrage can neutralize the policy at the college level and characterize inter-school flows, which display a cascade effect. Our model's predictions are supported by empirical evidence on the effects of the Texas Top Ten Percent Law, indicating that a policy intended to support diversity at the college level actually helped achieve it in the high schools. Thus, top-N percent and similar location-based policies have potential to be recast as novel instruments for the long-sought goal of achieving high school integration.

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Bibliographic Reference

Estevan, F, Gall, T, Legros, P and Newman, A. 2017. 'The Top-Ten Way to Integrate High Schools'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.