Still Worth the Trip? School Busing Effects in Boston and New York

Discussion Paper

Joshua Angrist, Guthrie Gray-Lobe, Clemence M. Idoux, and Parag A. Pathak

August 2022

School assignment in Boston and New York City came to national attention in the 1970s as courts across the country tried to integrate schools. Today, district-wide choice allows Boston and New York students to enroll far from home, perhaps enhancing integration. Urban school transportation is increasingly costly, however, and has unclear integration and education consequences. This study estimates the causal effects of non-neighborhood school enrollment and school travel on integration, achievement, and college enrollment using an identification strategy that exploits partly-random assignment in the Boston and New York school matches. Instrumental variables estimates suggest distance and travel boost integration for those who choose to travel, but have little or no effect on test scores and college attendance. The researchers argue that small effects on educational outcomes reflect modest effects of distance and travel on school quality as measured by value-added.