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Determinants of Academic Attainment in the US: a Quantile regression analysis of test scores

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  • Getinet Astatike Haile

    ()
    (Policy Studies Institute, London, UK)

  • Anh Ngoc Nguyen

    ()
    (Development and Policies Research Center, Vietnam)

Abstract

We investigate the determinants of high school students academic attainment in maths, reading and science; focusing particularly on possible effects that ethnicity and family background may have on attainment. Using data from the NELS2000 and employing quantile regression techniques, we find two important results. First, the gaps in maths, reading and science test scores among ethnic groups vary across the conditional quantiles of the measured test scores. Specifically, Blacks and Hispanics tend to fare worse in their attainment at higher quantiles, particularly in science. Secondly, the effects of family background factors such as parental education and fathers occupation also vary across quantiles of the test score distribution. The implication of these findings is that the commonly made broad distinction on whether one is from a privileged/disadvantaged ethnic and/or family background may not tell the whole story that the academic attainment discourse has to note. Interventions aimed at closing the gap in attainment between Whites and minorities may need to target higher levels of the test score distribution.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Development and Policies Research Center (DEPOCEN), Vietnam in its series Working Papers with number 07.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dpc:wpaper:0707

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Keywords: Educational attainment; Quantile regression; US;

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  1. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1976. "Child Endowments, and the Quantity and Quality of Children," NBER Working Papers 0123, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 447-464, May.
  3. Gary S. Becker & Nigel Tomes, 1994. "Human Capital and the Rise and Fall of Families," NBER Chapters, in: Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition), pages 257-298 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Manski, C.F. & Sandefur, G.D. & Mclanahan, S. & Powers, D., 1990. "Alternative Estimates Of The Effect Of Family Stucture During Adolescence On Hight School Graduation," Working papers 90-31, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  5. Robert Haveman & Barbara Wolfe, 1995. "The Determinants of Children's Attainments: A Review of Methods and Findings," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1829-1878, December.
  6. Cook, Michael D & Evans, William N, 2000. "Families or Schools? Explaining the Convergence in White and Black Academic Performance," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 729-54, October.
  7. Alan B. Krueger & Mikael Lindahl, 2000. "Education for Growth: Why and For Whom?," NBER Working Papers 7591, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Eric A. Hanushek, 1979. "Conceptual and Empirical Issues in the Estimation of Educational Production Functions," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(3), pages 351-388.
  9. Hanushek, Eric A, 1992. "The Trade-Off between Child Quantity and Quality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 84-117, February.
  10. Becker, Gary S & Tomes, Nigel, 1979. "An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1153-89, December.
  11. Leibowitz, Arleen, 1974. "Home Investments in Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(2), pages S111-S131, Part II, .
  12. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
  13. Becker, Gary S & Lewis, H Gregg, 1973. "On the Interaction between the Quantity and Quality of Children," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(2), pages S279-88, Part II, .
  14. Moshe Buchinsky, 1998. "Recent Advances in Quantile Regression Models: A Practical Guideline for Empirical Research," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 88-126.
  15. repec:fth:prinin:451 is not listed on IDEAS
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