Abstract

Prior to the racial integration of schools in the southern United States, predominantly African American schools were staffed almost exclusively by African American teachers as well, and teaching constituted an extraordinarily large share of professional employment among southern Blacks. The large-scale desegregation of southern schools occurring after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act represented a potential threat to this employment base, and this paper estimates how student integration affected Black teacher employment. Using newly assembled archival data from 759 southern school districts observed between 1960 and 1972, I estimate that a school district transitioning from fully segregated to fully integrated education, which approximates the experience of the modal southern district in this period, led to a 41.7% reduction in Black teacher employment. Additional results, including event-study specifications and models with extensive controls for concurrent policy changes, strongly suggest that these employment reductions were a causal effect of integration and not due to school district self-selection into desegregation. To study the broader impacts of reduced teaching employment, I estimate race-specific changes in occupations and earnings in the Decennial Censuses, and find that displaced southern Black teachers either entered lower skill occupations within the South or migrated out of the region to continue teaching, and that integration induced displacement led to substantial earnings reductions.

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