The effect of childhood segregation on minority academic performance at selective colleges

Douglas S. Massey, Mary J. Fischer

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58 Scopus citations


In this study we draw upon data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen, a representative survey of nearly 4,000 men and women entering college in the autumn of 1999, to consider the effects of housing and school segregation during childhood on academic performance in college. We show that black and Latino college students, even those enrolled in the nation's most selective academic institutions, display large differences in background and experiences that are strongly conditioned by racial segregation. Those coming of age in a segregated environment were less prepared academically and socially for college life, and were more exposed to violence and social disorder while growing up. After documenting these differences, we estimate regression models to predict academic performance as a function of the minority composition of the neighbourhoods and schools where respondents lived ages 6-18, controlling for a variety of individual and family characteristics as well as the correlates of segregation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • Academic performance
  • Higher education
  • Minority students
  • Segregation


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