School choice and segregation

Project outline

In 2005 North-Rhine Westphalia passed a new law abolishing primary school catchment areas by the 2008/2009 school year. The most frequently-cited argument against this amendment which results in free school choice, however, is the fear of increased social and ethnic segregation. Segregation results from an unequal spread of students with specific characteristics across schools. In this context the new state government passed a law in December of 2010 allowing the municipalities to reestablish school catchment areas, an option which will be used by some of them.

Using administrative data (school statistics) beginning with the 2006/2007 school year, which signals the time period two years before abolition, we analyze whether segregation increases or decreases with the absence of school catchment areas. We analyze the enrollments for all primary schools in the whole federal state and for each municipality separately, calculating measures of segregation and testing whether changes in segregation are systematic i.e., caused by the abolition of school catchment areas, or random.

Additional information

2008 until today

Elementary school, school choice, segregation, school districts, policy variation

Kerstin Schneider
Andrea Riedel
Anna Makles (contact person)

Claudia Schuchart, School of Education
Horst Weishaupt, DIPF, Frankfurt a. M.

  • Makles, A., Schneider, K. (2015): Much Ado about Nothing? The Role of Primary School Catchment Areas for Ethnic School Segregation. Evidence from a Policy Reform. In: German Economic Review, 16(2), 203-225. DOI: 10.1111/geer.12048.
  • Makles, A., Schneider, K. (2013): Much Ado about Nothing? The Role of Primary School Catchment Areas for Ethnic School Segregation. Evidence from a Policy Reform. CESifo Working Paper, 4520, CESifo Group Munich. [download]
  • Makles, A., Schneider, K. (2013): Schulwahl als bildungspolitisches Steuerungsinstrument. In: Wirtschaftsdienst, 93(1), 60-62.
  • Schneider, K., Schuchart, C., Weishaupt, H., Riedel, A. (2012): The effect of free primary school choice on ethnic groups - Evidence from a policy reform. In: European Journal of Political Economy, 28(4), 430-444.
  • Makles, A., Schneider, K. (2012): Freie Wahl der Grundschule: Wie entscheiden sich Eltern und welche Konsequenzen hat die Schulwahl für die Segregation? In: Die Deutsche Schule (DDS), 104(4), 332-346.
  • Schuchart, C., Schneider, K., Weishaupt, H., Riedel, A. (2012): Welchen Einfluss hat die Wohnumgebung auf die Grundschulwahl von Eltern? Analysen zur Bedeutung von kontextuellen und familiären Merkmalen auf das Wahlverhalten. In: Zeitschrift für Empirische Pädagogik, 26(4), 506-534.
  • Makles, A., Schneider, K. (2011): Segregation in primary schools – Do school districts really matter? Evidence from policy reforms. Schumpeter Discussion Papers, 2011-003, Universität Wuppertal. [download]
  • Riedel, A., Schneider, K., Schuchart, C., Weishaupt, H. (2010): School Choice in German Primary Schools: How binding are school districts? In: Journal of Educational Research Online (JERO), 2(1), 94-120. JERO, Vol. 2, No.1, 94-120, 2010. [open access]

Funded by:

(2008 until 2010)

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