Compositional Differences or Unequal Treatment: A Decomposition of Black-White Differences in School Suspension and Its Relation to High School Graduation

Linsey N. Edwards, Princeton University

Previous literature has consistently found that black boys are suspended and expelled from school at a higher rate than their white peers—even for comparable offenses. A large and persistent black-white graduation gap is also a robust finding across the literature. Using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS: 88), this study seeks to link these two trends. Nonlinear decomposition is used to estimate the contribution of compositional differences and differences in coefficients to racial inequality in suspension. Additionally, I investigate the relationship between suspension and on-time high school graduation with two complimentary approaches. First, hierarchical modeling is used to estimate whether suspension differentially affects graduation by race and gender. Three different approaches to missing covariates make for robust findings. Second, nonlinear decomposition is used to estimate the contribution of differences in suspension to gaps in graduation.

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Presented in Session 206: Intersectionality in Population Research