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Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the century America: A 'natural experiment' approach

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  • Margo, Robert A.
  • Aldrich Finegan, T.

Abstract

Recent research by Joshua Angrist and Alan Krueger has used information on exact dates of birth in the 1960 to 1980 federal censuses to study the impact of compulsory schooling laws on school attendance. This paper modifies their methodology to analyze similar data in the 1900 federal census to measure the impact of turn-of-the-century compulsory schooling laws. Using data on 14-year olds from the 1900 census public use microdata sample we compare attendance rates of children born after January 1, 1900 with those born before, across states with and without compulsory schooling laws. In states that combined school-leaving with child labor laws, we find that compulsion significantly raised attendance rates.
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Suggested Citation

  • Margo, Robert A. & Aldrich Finegan, T., 1996. "Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the century America: A 'natural experiment' approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 103-110, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:53:y:1996:i:1:p:103-110
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    1. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman, 2018. "Who Did Protective Legislation Protect? Evidence from 1880," Studies in Public Choice, in: Joshua Hall & Marcus Witcher (ed.), Public Choice Analyses of American Economic History, chapter 0, pages 87-134, Springer.
    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
    3. Landes, William M. & Solmon, Lewis C., 1972. "Compulsory Schooling Legislation: An Economic Analysis of Law and Social Change in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(1), pages 54-91, March.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913

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