Police shootings, civic unrest and student achievement: Evidence from Ferguson

Seth Gershenson, Michael S. Hayes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We document externalities of the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager and the resultant civic unrest experienced in Ferguson, MO. Difference-in-differences 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 elementary school students' math and reading achievement. Attendance is one mechanism through which this effect operated, as chronic absence increased by 5% in Ferguson-area schools. Impacts were concentrated in the bottom of the achievement distribution and spilled over into majority black schools throughout the greater St. Louis area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)663-685
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Economic Geography
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


  • Civic unrest
  • Externalities
  • Ferguson
  • Human capital
  • Natural experiment


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