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Birth Cohort and the Black-White Achievement Gap: The Roles of Access and Health Soon After Birth

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  • Kenneth Y. Chay
  • Jonathan Guryan
  • Bhashkar Mazumder

Abstract

One literature documents a significant, black-white gap in average test scores, while another finds a substantial narrowing of the gap during the 1980's, and stagnation in convergence after. We use two data sources -- the Long Term Trends NAEP and AFQT scores for the universe of applicants to the U.S. military between 1976 and 1991 -- to show: 1) the 1980's convergence is due to relative improvements across successive cohorts of blacks born between 1963 and the early 1970's and not a secular narrowing in the gap over time; and 2) the across-cohort gains were concentrated among blacks in the South. We then demonstrate that the timing and variation across states in the AFQT convergence closely tracks racial convergence in measures of health and hospital access in the years immediately following birth. We show that the AFQT convergence is highly correlated with post-neonatal mortality rates and not with neonatal mortality and low birth weight rates, and that this result cannot be explained by schooling desegregation and changes in family background. We conclude that investments in health through increased access at very early ages have large, long-term effects on achievement, and that the integration of hospitals during the 1960's affected the test performance of black teenagers in the 1980's.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15078.

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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15078

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Early Life Conditions and the Black-White Achievement Gap
    by Mark McG in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-06-18 13:41:00
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Cited by:
  1. Rothstein, Jesse & Wozny, Nathan, 2011. "Permanent Income and the Black-White Test Score Gap," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt86k5x83k, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  2. Kasey Buckles & Joseph Price, 2013. "Selection and the Marriage Premium for Infant Health," Demography, Springer, vol. 50(4), pages 1315-1339, August.
  3. Bhash Mazumder, 2011. "Black-white differences in intergenerational economic mobility in the US," Working Paper Series WP-2011-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  4. repec:wil:wileco:2012-08 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Douglas Almond & Janet Currie & Mariesa Herrmann, 2011. "From Infant to Mother: Early Disease Environment and Future Maternal Health," NBER Working Papers 17676, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dara N. Lee, 2012. "The Impact of Childhood Health on Adult Educational Attainment: Evidence from Modern Mandatory School Vaccination Laws," Working Papers 1202, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 29 Oct 2012.
  7. C. Kirabo Jackson & Rucker Johnson & Claudia Persico, 2014. "The Effect of School Finance Reforms on the Distribution of Spending, Academic Achievement, and Adult Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 20118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Eide, Eric R. & Showalter, Mark H., 2011. "Estimating the relation between health and education: What do we know and what do we need to know?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 778-791, October.
  9. Sonia Bhalotra & Atheendar Venkataramani, 2011. "The Captain of the Men of Death and His Shadow: Long-Run Impacts of Early Life Pneumonia Exposure," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/273, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  10. Rodney Andrews, 2010. "Comments on “Black Americans in the 21st Century: Should We Be Optimistic or Concerned?”," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 253-255, September.
  11. Emla Fitzsimons & Marcos Vera-Hernández, 2014. "Food for Thought? Breastfeeding and Child Development," DoQSS Working Papers 14-04, Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.
  12. Nancy Reichman & Hope Corman & Kelly Noonan & Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, 2010. "Effects of prenatal care on maternal postpartum behaviors," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 171-197, June.
  13. Rucker C. Johnson, 2011. "Long-run Impacts of School Desegregation & School Quality on Adult Attainments," NBER Working Papers 16664, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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