The continuing consequences of segregation: Family stress and college academic performance

Camille Z. Charles, Gniesha Dinwiddie, Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


We seek to determine whether the high levels of African-American residential segregation experienced have continuing academic consequences. Because segregation works to concentrate poverty and the social problems associated with it, the friends and relatives of African-American students face an elevated risk of stressful life events, which undermine grade performance. Methods. We use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen to measure the frequency with which members of students' social networks experienced stressful events during their freshman and sophomore years of college, comparing whites, Asians, Latinos, and African Americans from integrated neighborhoods with those coming from segregated neighborhoods. Results. African-American students from segregated neighborhoods experience higher levels of family stress than others. This stress is largely a function of violence and disorder in segregated neighborhoods. Students respond by devoting more time to family issues and their health and grades suffer as a result. Conclusions. Racial segregation is a structural feature of U.S. society that has continuing power to undermine the academic achievement of students long after they have seemingly left segregated living behind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1353-1373
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number5 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Dec 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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