Social Exclusion and Ethnic Segregation in Schools: The Role of Teacher&Apos;S Ethnic Prejudice

59 Pages Posted: 11 Feb 2021

See all articles by Sule Alan

Sule Alan

European University Institute; Bilkent University; J-PAL

Enes Duysak

University of Essex

Elif Kubilay

Bocconi University

Ipek Mumcu

University of Exeter

Date Written: February 1, 2021


Using detailed data on primary school children and their teachers, we show that teachers who hold prejudicial attitudes towards an ethnic group create socially and spatially segregated classrooms. We identify this relationship by leveraging a natural experiment where newly arrived refugee children are randomly assigned to teachers within schools. We elicit children's social networks to construct multiple measures of social exclusion and ethnic segregation in classrooms. We find that teachers' ethnic prejudice significantly lowers the prevalence of inter-ethnic social links, increases homophilic ties among host children, and puts refugee children at a higher risk of peer violence. Biased teachers' exclusionary classroom practices emerge as a likely mechanism that explains our results. We find that biased teachers tend to spatially segregate refugees, seat them at the back corners of classrooms, away from attention. Our results highlight the role of teachers in achieving integrated schools in a world of increasing ethnic diversity.

JEL Classification: I24, J15

Suggested Citation

Alan, Sule and Duysak, Enes and Kubilay, Elif and Mumcu, Ipek, Social Exclusion and Ethnic Segregation in Schools: The Role of Teacher&Apos;S Ethnic Prejudice (February 1, 2021). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP15784, Available at SSRN:

Sule Alan (Contact Author)

European University Institute ( email )

Villa San Paolo
Via della Piazzuola 43
50133 Florence

Bilkent University ( email )


J-PAL ( email )

30 Wadsworth Street, E53-320
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Enes Duysak

University of Essex ( email )

Wivenhoe Park
Colchester, CO4 3SQ
United Kingdom

Elif Kubilay

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136

Ipek Mumcu

University of Exeter ( email )

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

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