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Did the Great Depression affect Educational Attainment in the US?

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  • Kisswani, Khalid

Abstract

The Great Depression is a prime example of a macroeconomic crisis that produced adverse economic and social effects in all spheres of life. The theoretical arguments about the real effects of the Great Depression on education vary. The first is that of economic hardships, which might force individuals eligible to go to school to work for their sustenance. The second argument is that high unemployment would reduce the opportunity cost of going to school, making going to school the best other viable alternative. Following these theoretical notions, this paper explores the impact of the Great Depression on education, on race (whites and blacks) and gender (males and females), during the period from 1930 to 1940. Furthermore, this paper examines the effects of state employment indices on the average education (at the mean). The results (using individual census data from 1960) show some evidence that the Great Depression affected education of whites born between 1911 and 1915. However, the results show no evidence that the variation in state employment indices affected the decision of schooling on the average (mean), but it affected the education of white males at the top of the distribution (90% percentile).

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 12302.

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Date of creation: 19 Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12302

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Keywords: Great Depression; education; employment indices;

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  1. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence Katz, 2003. "Mass Secondary Schooling and the State," NBER Working Papers 10075, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," Working Papers 653, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Joseph G. Altonji, 1991. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes are Uncertain," NBER Working Papers 3714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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