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Paying for Progress: Conditional Grants and the Desegregation of Southern Schools

Elizabeth Cascio, Nora Gordon, Ethan Lewis and Sarah Reber

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2010, vol. 125, issue 1, pages 445-482

Abstract: This paper examines how a large conditional grants program influenced school desegregation in the American South. Exploiting newly collected archival data and quasi-experimental variation in potential per-pupil federal grants, we show that school districts with more at risk in 1966 were more likely to desegregate just enough to receive their funds. Although the program did not raise the exposure of blacks to whites like later court orders, districts with larger grants at risk in 1966 were less likely to be under court order through 1970, suggesting that tying federal funds to nondiscrimination reduced the burden of desegregation on federal courts.

Date: 2010
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