Housing Costs, Zoning, and Access to High-Scoring Schools
MetadataShow full item record
Huge inequalities in educational attainment persist across income and racial/ethnic groups. Blacks aged 25 and older are twice as likely, and Hispanics four times as likely, as whites to have not completed high school. Post-secondary degree attainment rates are also much higher for whites than these groups. At the same time, the academic achievement gap between rich and poor is growing. The majority of high school dropouts—60 percent—come from the bottom 20 percent of families by income. Moreover, only 5 percent of students enrolled in the most competitive universities come from the bottom quintile of parental socio-economic status, while 70 percent come from the top quintile. The first section surveys academic research on educational achievement with an emphasis on the relative effects of schools and families in shaping educational outcomes. A methodology section provides a summary of data sources and defines the main variables measured. The paper then examines differences in school test score performance among different racial/ethnic/income groups, how these differences vary across metropolitan areas, and implications for educational outcomes. Subsequent findings explore potential explanations for school inequality, including large gaps in housing costs, which are correlated with exclusionary zoning laws. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of public policy implications.