School Desegregation and Black Teacher Employment

32 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2017

See all articles by Owen Thompson

Owen Thompson

Williams College - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 29, 2017


Prior to the racial integration of schools in the Southern United States, predominantly African American schools were also staffed almost exclusively by African American teachers, and teaching accounted for an extraordinarily large share of professional employment among Southern blacks. The desegregation of Southern schools that followed passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act was a potential threat to black teacher employment, since integration was often achieved by closing or consolidating black schools without meaningful protections for the teachers employed there. Using newly assembled archival data from 852 Southern school districts observed between 1964 and 1972, this paper analyzes how the student desegregation process affected the employment of African American teachers. The primary finding is that a school district transitioning from fully segregated to fully integrated education - which approximates the experience of the modal Southern district in this period - reduced their employment of black teachers by 31.8%. A series of empirical tests indicate that these employment reductions were a causal effect of student desegregation, rather than being due to unobserved school district characteristics or district self-selection into integration. Analyses of Census data similarly find that there was a significant deterioration in the employment outcomes of Southern blacks in teaching-related industries and occupations between 1960 and 1970, relative to Southern white teachers or college educated Southern blacks who were not teachers.

Keywords: School Integration, Teachers

JEL Classification: J21, J45, J71

Suggested Citation

Thompson, Owen, School Desegregation and Black Teacher Employment (September 29, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Owen Thompson (Contact Author)

Williams College - Department of Economics ( email )

Fernald House
Williamstown, MA 01267
United States

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