Effects of Busing on Test Scores and the Wellbeing of Bilingual Pupils: Resources Matter
Economic Working Paper by Anna Piil Damm, Helena Skyt Nielsen, Elena Mattana and Benedicte Rouland
We exploit exogenous variation from a school desegregation policy to evaluate the impact of forced busing on bilingual school starters. The policy moved pupils from schools with many Danish as additional language (DAL) pupils and high per-pupil spending to schools with fewer DAL pupils but lower per-pupil spending. Assignment to busing may be regarded as exogenous conditional on three observed individual characteristics. In contrast to the literature on voluntary busing to promote racial school integration, we find that assignment to forced busing has a negative effect on the academic performance and wellbeing of DAL pupils. Our investigation of potential mechanisms shows that bused pupils attend schools with a lower budget per pupil and a lower overall budget for DAL pupils, have a lower enrollment rate in the after-school program in the assigned school, and are more likely to transfer to another public school (after regaining free school choice). Our results suggest that school resources can more than compensate for potential negative peer effects in schools with moderate levels of segregation.