Geographic Barriers to Education in Disadvantaged Communities: Evidence from High School Openings in Israeli Arab Localities
Secondary school enrollment has grown substantially over the past century, but there is surprisingly little economic evidence on the effects of geographic access to high schools, particularly for remote and disadvantaged communities. I attempt to fill this gap in the literature by examining the effects of openings of new local high schools for the Arab minority in Israel over two episodes: (1) Historical openings in 1972-1995 for Israeli Arabs (2) Recent openings in 2007-2014 for the poorer Bedouin population of the Negev in southern Israel. For both episodes, I find that the establishment of a high school in a locality increases high school completion rates by about 5-7 percentage points. The effect is higher for localities that were further away from pre-existing schools. For the historical Arab sample, I also examine the long-run effects and find an increase in post-secondary attainment and in women’s employment and earnings. Among the Negev Bedouin population, I also observe a decrease in the number of juvenile criminal records. Overall, these findings suggest that the geographic barrier to high school access is important, especially for disadvantaged communities, and that establishing a high school in remote communities can be beneficial in multiple aspects.