The effects of school desegregation on infant health


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Abstract

HIGHLIGHTSUsing birth certificate data, I examine how school desegregation affects infant health.School desegregation reduces preterm births among black mothers.School desegregation increases maternal education among black mothers.This paper adds to the growing literature on the importance of school desegregation.This paper examines the effects of school desegregation on infant health using birth certificate data from 1970 to 2002 and a multiple difference-in-differences approach that exploits variation in the timing of desegregation across counties. Using cohort fixed effects and county fixed effects, I find that among black mothers in Southern regions, school desegregation reduces preterm births by 1.7 percentage points. These results are robust to county-specific cohort trends, county-specific year trends, and state-specific cohort fixed effects. In addition, school desegregation increases maternal education and prenatal care in the first trimester and decreases the likelihood of the child having a teenage father. These may be important pathways to improved infant health. This paper adds to the growing literature on the importance of school desegregation in areas beyond academic achievement.

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