The Opportunity Structure of School Segregation

Maria Branden , Stockholm University
Magnus Bygren, Stockholm University

This study examines how local opportunity structures lead to segregating choices, which in turn affect the structural conditions of segregation that choices are made within. We apply our framework in an analysis of how parents’ choice of school for their child is dependent on the local availability of schools, as well as on other parents’ choices through vacancy chains when new schools emerge. Our analysis utilizes Swedish population register data, including the schools children attend year by year, 1st grade to 9th grade, 2008-2012. Through geocoded information on school and residential composition, we can create measures of school-areas and examine how flows of students between schools are affected by a new school emerging in the vicinity and identify tipping points. The paper gives deeper insight in how opportunity structures shape parents’ choices, and how this in turn has implications on both segregation levels and the opportunity structure for other children.

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 Presented in Session 124. Flash Session: Causes and Consequences of Educational Inequalities