Preference heterogeneity and school segregation

Hessel Oosterbeek and Sándor Sóvágó and Bas van der Klaauw

This paper examines heterogeneity of school preferences between ethnic and social groups and quantifies the importance of this heterogeneity for school segregation. We study secondary schools in Amsterdam, where it is unlikely that location choices are driven by school preferences. Our key findings are that heterogeneity of preferences for schools is substantial and that almost 50% of school segregation by ethnicity and 30% of school segregation by household income, can be attributed to it. Ability tracking is the other main determinant of school segregation. Results from policy simulations indicate that affirmative action in the form of bonus points on qualifying tests or minority quotas have only modest impacts.

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