The impact of desegregation on white public school enrollment in the US nonmetro South, 1960-1990 Academic Article uri icon


  • Objective. This paper assesses white responses to public school desegregation in the U.S. nonmetro South. Methods. Using census data, we examined trends in white public school enrollment from 1960 to 1990 for a random sample of southern nonmetro counties and also for a comparison sample of nonsouthern counties. Results. In the southern sample, we find that the average percentage of white elementary and secondary students enrolled in public schools declined steadily during the 1960s and 1970s - as desegregation progressed - and stabilizes during the 1980s. Declines from 1960 to 1980 are greatest in those counties with relatively large black populations. Declines in white public school enrollment were slight in counties with relatively small black populations and are not observed for the non-southern ("control") sample. Conclusions. Findings suggest that in the black-belt counties of the rural South, whites tended to respond to the changes in resource allocation and racial contact implied by public school desegregation by withdrawing from public schools and enrolling in private ones.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Cready, C. M., & Fossett, M. A.

complete list of authors

  • Cready, CM||Fossett, MA

publication date

  • September 1998