Family trends

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Family trends


Who Goes to Private School? The reasons behind these decisions are as individual as families themselves: Private schools historically ranged widely in their annual fees; many programs, such as those run by the Catholic Church, were designed to be broadly affordable and offered significant discounts for low-income families.

However, the number of Catholic schools has fallen sharply in recent years, while the number of nonsectarian private schools has increased.

Family trends

At the same time, income Family trends and residential and school segregation by income have grown. How have these shifting trends affected private-school enrollment nationwide?

May 05, 2009

Has expanding income inequality led to an increased concentration of affluent families at private schools? If so, has that fueled a broader increase in segregation at both public and private schools?

To explore these questions, we examine enrollment and family-income data from the past 50 years at Catholic, other religious, and nonsectarian private elementary schools that is, schools serving grades K—8.

Our analysis finds that private schools, like public schools, are increasingly segregated by income. In particular, the share of middle-income students attending private schools has declined by almost half, while the private-school enrollment rate of wealthy children has remained steady.

Much of the decline among middle-income students is due to falling enrollment at Catholic schools, which have closed in droves in the past 20 years. Meanwhile, private-school enrollment among affluent students has shifted from religious to nonsectarian schools.

By the mids, it had fallen to 10 percent and remained quite steady for the rest of the 20th century. During the subsequent 15 years, it drifted downward slowly and was slightly less than 9 percent in see Figure 1. Those relatively steady numbers since the mids mask significant changes in the mix of school types that make up the private-school market, driven in particular by widespread closures of Catholic schools.

In89 percent of American children who attended a private elementary school were enrolled in a Catholic school; inthe comparable figure was 42 percent.

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By contrast, the percentage of private elementary-school students who attended a non-Catholic religious school increased from 8 percent in to 40 percent in During this same period, the percentage of private elementary-school students enrolled in nonsectarian schools increased from 4 percent to 18 percent.

Has the family income mix of students attending each type of private school changed in recent decades? One reason it might have is that inequality in the incomes of American families, which held steady between andgrew over subsequent decades.

Family trends

Looking at families with children in grades 1 to 8 between andthe average income, net of inflation, among those in the 10th percentile declined by 11 percent. That of families with incomes in the middle, or 50th percentile, increased by 19 percent. That of relatively affluent families with incomes in the 90th percentile increased by 57 percent.

Some surveys, such as the census, asked respondents to report the individual income for each family member, while others asked parents to place their household income within a set range of dollar amounts. To obtain a common metric, we converted ordinal income categories into percentiles of the national distribution of incomes for families with children enrolled in grades 1 to 8.

Our analysis includes incomes from the —69 school year until —14, which we refer to as and To remove the effects of inflation, we express all family incomes and private-school tuitions in dollars.

We do not have enough data points to precisely measure the private-school enrollment rates of families at each income level. We refer to these family-income percentiles as low, middle, and high. Findings Our analysis finds a strong positive role of family income in predicting private-school enrollment, as well as a marked decline between and in the share of students from middle-income families attending private schools see Figure 2.

For example, in18 percent of elementary-school-age children from high-income families attended a private school, compared to 12 percent of children from middle-income families and 5 percent of children from low-income families.

Inthe percentage of children from middle-income families had declined by almost half, to 7 percent, while the percentage of children from high-income families remained roughly steady at 16 percent.

As a result, the gap in private elementary-school enrollment rates grew from 5.

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Much of the expanded gap is due to declining enrollment at Catholic private schools, which historically served large numbers of children from low- and middle-income families. In addition, growth in the gap among students at private nonsectarian elementary schools has been particularly large, almost entirely due to a substantial increase in the enrollment rate of children from high-income families.

We also find that private-school enrollment rates are much higher among middle- and high-income families living in cities than among families with similar income levels living in suburbs, and that the gap grew more among urban families than among suburban families.

In addition, on the whole, private-school enrollment rates are lower for black and Hispanic families than for white families, but differences in family income account for a large part of those differences.

Finally, we find that private-school enrollment trends differ dramatically by region: The gap grew much more in the South than in other regions. While the private elementary-school enrollment rate for children from high-income families remained stable overall, many affluent families have shifted from religious to nonsectarian schools over the last four decades.Long-term enrollment trends by family income.

For the past half century, roughly one in 10 U.S. families has chosen to enroll their children in private school. RISMedia delivers the latest real estate news and trends, best practices, events, social media and technology for agents, brokers and their clients and prospects. How wonderful it is to start a brand new year with you all!

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