Abstract

Opponents of school vouchers often argue that school vouchers will lead to 'white flight' from public schools that are disproportionately nonwhite, creating more racially segregated schools. However, recent studies that examine white flight from public schools into private schools have produced conflicting evidence on whether or not white flight actually exists. In this paper, we present new evidence on whether universal vouchers will lead to more racially segregated schools. Specifically, we use data on vote outcomes from a state-wide universal voucher initiative to estimate the likelihood that white households with children currently in public schools will use vouchers to switch out of more-integrated schools. Our results indicate that white households with children attending schools with large concentrations of nonwhite schoolchildren are significantly more likely to support school vouchers, an effect that is absent for non-white households with children and households without children. However, it also does not appear to be race, per se, that is the primary concern, but other school factors that are correlated with race, such as test scores and limited English proficiency.

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