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Schooling and the AFQT: Evidence from School Entry Laws

  • Cascio, Elizabeth U.

Is the AFQT a measure of achievement or innate ability? In this paper, we test for a relationship between schooling and AFQT performance in the NLSY 79 by comparing test-takers with birthdays near state cutoff dates for school entry. We instrument for schooling at the test date with “academic cohortâ€â€”the year in which an individual should have entered first grade given her birthday and the state in which she was likely to have entered school—in a model which allows age at the test date to have a direct effect on AFQT performance. This identification strategy reveals large impacts of schooling on the AFQT performance of blacks and Hispanics, but no schooling effect for whites. Within race, schooling is generally found to have larger impacts on the more academic components of the underlying test battery. On balance, these findings provide support for the hypothesis that the AFQT measures school achievement.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz in its series Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt8zm571cw.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt8zm571cw
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  1. Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1993. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 521-44, July.
  2. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  3. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," Working Papers 653, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Roland G. Fryer & Steven D. Levitt, 2004. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 447-464, May.
  6. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2007. "The Production of Cognitive Achievement in Children: Home, School, and Racial Test Score Gaps," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 91-136.
  7. Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J. & Mullen, Kathleen, 2003. "The Effect of Schooling and Ability on Achievement Test Scores," IZA Discussion Papers 826, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Heckman, James J, 1995. "Lessons from the Bell Curve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1091-1120, October.
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