The Geography of School District Income Inequality

Authors: Kendra Taylor*, Sanametrix, Doug Geverdt*,
Topics: Spatial Analysis & Modeling, Economic Geography
Keywords: School Districts, Income Inequality, Education
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Cleveland 2, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Income inequality has grown in the U.S. over the past four decades, driven largely by growth in upper-tail inequality (Reardon & Bischoff, 2011; Reardon, Fox & Townsend, 2015). At the same time, students and children are experiencing growing income segregation between schools and school districts (Owens, Reardon & Jencks, 2016). Making use of several federal datasets from EDGE (Education Demographic and Geographic Estimates), we explore spatial patterns of income inequality, considering how variation occurs across regions and school district jurisdictions. Specifically, we explore 1) the spatial distribution of income inequality across school districts in the U.S.; 2) clusters of high and low income inequality; and 3) the locales/jurisdictions that experience the highest levels of income inequality. We show how school district income inequality is a regional phenomenon with positive spatial autocorrelation. Further, we explore hot spots of income inequality (where school districts with high income inequality are clustered) across the Southeast and in parts of the Southwest like West Texas and northern Arizona and New Mexico. Findings from this study provide insight into regional variation in school district inequality by identifying patterns of spatial dependency. References: Owens, A., Reardon, S. F., & Jencks, C. (2016). Income segregation between schools and school districts. American Educational Research Journal, 53(4), 1159-1197. Reardon, S.F., & Bischoff, K. (2011). Income inequality and income segregation. American Journal of Sociology. Reardon, S.F., Fox, L., & Townsend, J. (2015). Neighborhood Income Composition by Race and Income, 1990-2009. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

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