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Urban Poverty, School Attendance, and Adolescent Labor Force Attachment: Some Historical Evidence

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  • Howard Bodenhorn

Abstract

It is well known that children raised in poverty demonstrate lower academic achievement than children raised in affluence. This study extends previous studies in three ways. First, it estimates structural instead of reduced-form models of child academic attainment. Such structural models explicitly account for choices made by children themselves, given choices made by parents and governments. Second, it provides an historical insight into the connections between poverty, child choices and educational outcomes. Nearly all extent work considers the late 20th century. This study uses a unique data set from the mid-nineteenth century. And, third, this study documents the choices underlying adolescent labor force participation. Youth in poor households are more likely than affluent youth to be asked to contribute income to the household. The choice to do so is influenced by parental choices and the expected reduction in the child's later-life wealth attributable to choosing work over additional schooling.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12043.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12043

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  1. Robert A. Margo, 1990. "Race and Schooling in the South, 1880-1950: An Economic History," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number marg90-1, October.
  2. Howard Bodenhorn, 2002. "The Complexion Gap: The Economic Consequences of Color among Free African Americans in the Rural Antebellum South," NBER Working Papers 8957, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Goldin, Claudia & Katz, Lawrence, 2000. "Education and Income in the Early Twentieth Century: Evidence from the Prairies," Scholarly Articles 2766688, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Lisa Sanbonmatsu & Jeffrey R. Kling & Greg J. Duncan & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, 2006. "Neighborhoods and Academic Achievement: Results from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment," NBER Working Papers 11909, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Conley, Timothy G. & Galenson, David W., 1998. "Nativity and Wealth in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Cities," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(02), pages 468-493, June.
  6. 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.
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