July 2016

IZA DP No. 10091: Short-Run Externalities of Civic Unrest: Evidence from Ferguson, Missouri

published in: Journal of Economic Geography, 2018, 18(3): 663-685.

We document externalities of the civic unrest experienced in Ferguson, MO following the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager. Difference-in-differences and synthetic control method estimates compare Ferguson-area schools to neighboring schools in the greater St. Louis area and find that the unrest led to statistically significant, arguably causal declines in students' math and reading achievement. Attendance is one mechanism through which this effect operated, as chronic absence increased by five percent in Ferguson-area schools. Impacts were concentrated in elementary schools and at the bottom of the achievement distribution and spilled over into majority black schools throughout the area.