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Race, Gender, School Discipline, and Human Capital Effects

Jeffrey Jordan () and Bulent Anil

Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 2009, vol. 41, issue 2, 419-429

Abstract: Noncognitive factors such as discipline (and its mirror, punishment in the form of discipline referrals) can affect school and labor market outcomes, human capital development, and thus the economic well–being of communities. It is well–known throughout the United States, but particularly in rural areas of the south that black males drop out of school more frequently than white males, face higher levels of unemployment, and are incarcerated at a disproportionate rate compared with their white cohorts. Also students in low–income homes were three times more likely to drop out than those from average–income homes and nine times more likely than students from high–income homes. This paper tests the hypothesis that the odds of a student being referred for disciplinary action in the middle school setting (8th grade) increases if the student is male, black, in special education classes, or is poor. We conclude that is indeed the case, with the exception of students assigned to special education classes. In particular, we find that low income students are up to eight times more likely to be sent for disciplinary referrals than others. We next tested the hypothesis that the gender and race of the teachers who refer students for disciplinary action have a significant impact on the first hypothesis. Here the evidence that there is a “color to discipline“ in this school district is weak.

Date: 2009
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