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Families or Schools? Explaining the Convergence in White and Black Academic Performance


  • Cook, Michael D
  • Evans, William N


Differences in test scores of white and black students have narrowed substantially over time, falling by one-half since 1970s. Some have speculated that this convergence is due to changes in family background or convergence in school quality. In this article we decompose the convergence in test scores into that portion due to changes in parental education, changes in school quality, and a narrowing of the within-school gap in test scores. Only about 25% of the overall convergence is attributable to changing family and school characteristics. We find that nearly 75% of the convergence is attributable to changes within schools. Copyright 2000 by University of Chicago Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Cook, Michael D & Evans, William N, 2000. "Families or Schools? Explaining the Convergence in White and Black Academic Performance," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(4), pages 729-754, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlabec:v:18:y:2000:i:4:p:729-54

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sheila Krein & Andrea Beller, 1988. "Educational attainment of children from single-parent families: Differences by exposure, gender, and race," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 25(2), pages 221-234, May.
    2. Mary Corcoran & Greg J. Duncan, 1979. "Work History, Labor Force Attachment, and Earnings Differences between the Races and Sexes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 14(1), pages 3-20.
    3. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
    4. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-1177, September.
    5. Betts, Julian R, 1995. "Does School Quality Matter? Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 231-250, May.
    6. Grogger, Jeff, 1996. "Does School Quality Explain the Recent Black/White Wage Trend?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 231-253, April.
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