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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Does Immigration Induce "Native Flight" from Public Schools into Private Schools?

  • Author(s): Fairlie, Robert
  • et al.

The paper tests whether native-born American families respond to inflows of immigrants by sending their children to private school.  The analysis uses 1980 and 1990 Census data from 132 metropolitan areas.  For primary school students, no significant relation between immigration and private school enrollment is found.  For secondary schools, a significant link emerges.  For every four immigrants who arrive in public high schools, it is estimated that one native student switches to a private school.  White students account for most of this flight.  Natives appear to respond mainly to immigrant children who speak a language other than English at home.

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