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Estimating Cognitive Gaps Between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians

Author

Listed:
  • Andrew Leigh
  • Xiaodong Gong

Abstract

Improving cognitive skills of young children has been suggested as a possible strategy for equalising opportunities across racial groups. Using data on 4-5 year olds in the Longitudinal Survey of Australian Children, we focus on two cognitive tests: the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) and the ‘Who Am I?’ test (WAI). We estimate the test score gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children to be about 0.3 to 0.4 standard deviations, suggesting that the typical Indigenous 5 year-old has a similar test score to the typical non-Indigenous 4 year-old. Between one-third and two-thirds of the Indigenous/non-Indigenous test score gap appears to be due to socio-economic differences, such as income and parental education. We review the literature on test score differences in Australia, and find that our estimated gaps are lower than most of those found in the literature. This implies that the test score gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children may widen over the lifecycle, a finding that has implications for policies aimed at improving educational opportunities for Indigenous children.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Leigh & Xiaodong Gong, 2008. "Estimating Cognitive Gaps Between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Australians," CEPR Discussion Papers 578, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:578
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP578.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Leigh, Andrew, 2010. "Estimating teacher effectiveness from two-year changes in students' test scores," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 480-488, June.
    2. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    4. Eric A. Hanushek & Steven G. Rivkin, 2006. "School Quality and the Black-White Achievement Gap," NBER Working Papers 12651, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Steve Bradley & Mirko Draca & Colin Green & Gareth Leeves, 2007. "The magnitude of educational disadvantage of indigenous minority groups in Australia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 20(3), pages 547-569, July.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Julie Moschion, 2017. "Gender gaps in early educational achievement," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(4), pages 1093-1134, October.
    2. Francisco Azpitarte & Abraham Chigavazira & Guyonne Kalb & Brad M. Farrant & Francisco Perales & Stephen R. Zubrick, 2016. "Childcare Use and Its Role in Indigenous Child Development: Evidence from the Longitudinal Study of Indigenous Children in Australia," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n36, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    3. Leigh, Andrew, 2010. "Estimating teacher effectiveness from two-year changes in students' test scores," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 480-488, June.
    4. repec:spr:jopoec:v:30:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0634-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Anna Zhu, 2017. "Childhood homelessness and adult employment: the role of education, incarceration, and welfare receipt," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(3), pages 893-924, July.
    6. Hynsjö, Disa & Damon, Amy, 2016. "Bilingual education in Peru: Evidence on how Quechua-medium education affects indigenous children's academic achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 116-132.
    7. Matthew Gray & Diana Smart, 2009. "Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: A Valuable New Data Source for Economists," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 42(3), pages 367-376.
    8. Natalie Stoeckl & Michelle Esparon & Marina Farr & Aurélie Delisle & Owen Stanley, 2014. "The great asymmetric divide: An empirical investigation of the link between indigenous and non-indigenous economic systems in Northern Australia," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(4), pages 783-801, November.
    9. repec:kap:atlecj:v:45:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11293-017-9542-x is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    cognitive ability; racial differentials; early childhood;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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