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Social Action, Private Choice, and Philanthropy: Understanding the Sources of Improvements in Black Schooling in Georgia, 1911-1960

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  • John Donohue III
  • James J. Heckman
  • Petra E. Todd

Abstract

Improvements in educational attainment and in educational quality are universally acknowledged to be major contributors to black economic progress in the twentieth century. The sources of these improvements are less well understood. Many scholars implicitly assume improvements in schooling reflect private choices. In fact, schooling is publicly provided and increases in the quality and availability of black schools in the South occurred at a time when blacks were excluded from the political process. This paper demonstrates the important roles of social action, especially NAACP litigation, and private philanthropy, in improving access and quality of public schooling in Georgia and in the rest of the South in the first half of the century. Analyses that pit rising schooling quality as an alternative to social action in explaining black progress miss the important role of social activism in promoting schooling quality and hence in elevating the economic status of black Americans.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6418.

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Date of creation: Feb 1998
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Publication status: published as Donohue, John J., III, James J. Heckman and Petra E. Todd. "The Schooling Of Southern Blacks: The Roles Of Legal Activism And Private Philanthropy, 1910-1960," Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2002, v107(1,Feb), 225-268.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6418

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  1. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200, February.
  2. Donohue, John J, III & Heckman, James, 1991. "Continuous versus Episodic Change: The Impact of Civil Rights Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 29(4), pages 1603-43, December.
  3. Finis Welch, 1967. "Labor-Market Discrimination: An Interpretation of Income Differences in the Rural South," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 75, pages 225.
  4. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-64, June.
  5. Heckman, James J & Payner, Brook S, 1989. "Determining the Impact of Federal Antidiscrimination Policy on the Economic Status of Blacks: A Study of South Carolina," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 138-77, March.
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