Birth Cohort and the Black-White Achievement Gap: The Roles of Access and Health Soon After Birth
AbstractOne 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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Date of creation: Jun 2009
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- J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
- J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-06-17 (All new papers)
- NEP-HEA-2009-06-17 (Health Economics)
- NEP-LAB-2009-06-17 (Labour Economics)
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Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- Early Life Conditions and the Black-White Achievement Gap
by Mark McG in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-06-18 13:41:00
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Jesse Rothstein & Nathan Wozny, 2011.
"Permanent Income and the Black-White Test Score Gap,"
NBER Working Papers
17610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Sonia Bhalotra & Atheendar Venkataramani, 2011.
"The Captain of the Men of Death and His Shadow: Long-Run Impacts of Early Life Pneumonia Exposure,"
CHILD Working Papers
wp20_11, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
- Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Venkataramani, Atheendar, 2011. "The Captain of the Men of Death and His Shadow: Long-Run Impacts of Early Life Pneumonia Exposure," IZA Discussion Papers 6041, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- 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.
- 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.
- Yong Suk Lee, 2012. "Educational Tracking, Residential Sorting, and Intergenerational Mobility," Department of Economics Working Papers 2012-08, Department of Economics, Williams College.
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