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racial segregation; school vouchers; school choice; systemic effects; integration


The question of how school choice programs affect the racial stratification of schools is highly salient in the field of education policy. We use a student-level panel data set to analyze the impacts of the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP) on racial segregation in public and private schools. This targeted school voucher program provides funding for low-income, mostly minority students in the lowest-graded public schools to enroll in participating private schools. Our analysis indicates that the vast majority (82%) of LSP transfers have reduced racial segregation in the voucher students’ former public schools. LSP transfers have marginally increased segregation in the participating private schools, however, where just 45% of transfers reduce racial segregation. In those school districts under federal desegregation orders, voucher transfers result in a large reduction in traditional public schools’ racial segregation levels and have no discernible impact on private schools. The results of this analysis provide reliable empirical evidence that parental choice actually has aided desegregation efforts in Louisiana.