Mass Secondary Schooling and the State: The Role of State Compulsion in the High School Movement
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CitationGoldin, Claudia and Lawrence F. Katz. 2011. Mass secondary schooling and the state: The role of state compulsion in the high school movement. In Understanding long-run economic growth, ed. D. Costa and N. Lamoreaux, 275-311. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
AbstractIn the three decades after 1910 the fraction of U.S. youths enrolled in public and private secondary schools soared from 18 to 71 percent and the fraction graduating increased from 9 to 51 percent. At the same time, state compulsory education and child labor legislation became more stringent. It might appear from the timing that the laws caused the increase in education rates. We evaluate that possibility using contemporaneous evidence on enrollments and also the micro-data from the 1960 census to examine the effect of the laws on overall educational attainment. Our estimation approach exploits cross-state differences in the timing of changes in state laws. The expansion of state compulsory schooling and child labor laws from 1910 to 1939 can, at best, account for 6 to 7 percent of the increase in high school enrollments and can account for about the same portion of the increase in the eventual educational attainment for the affected cohorts over the period. The “state,” in the form of localities, was already providing educational resources in the United States. Compulsory education laws had larger impacts in other nations where the laws compelled the state to expand educational resources.
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