Despite the substantial body of research on the psychological and social effects of racial segregation in schools on African Americans, few studies have considered the possibility that more racially inclusive schools might reduce the risk of extremely negative adult life experiences such as incarceration. Yet such a connection is made plausible by research linking black racial isolation in schools to variables that are often associated with incarceration rates, including concentrated poverty, and low educational and occupational aspirations and attainment. In this paper, we apply methods first developed by labor economists to assess the impact of racial inclusiveness in schools on individual incarceration rates for 5-year cohorts of African Americans and whites born since 1930. We find strong support for the conclusion that blacks educated in states where a higher proportion of their classmates were white experienced significantly lower incarceration rates as adults. Moreover, our analysis suggests that the effects of racial inclusiveness on black incarceration rates have grown stronger over time. These longitudinal effects are consistent with the argument that the educational climate of predominantly black schools has deteriorated in more recent decades.
- African American education
- Census data and incarceration
- Incarceration risk
- Longitudinal studies
- Racially isolated schools
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine