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Childhood lead and academic performance in Massachusetts

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  • Jessica W. Reyes

Abstract

It is now widely accepted that childhood exposure to even low levels of lead can adversely affect neurodevelopment, behavior, and cognitive performance. Using individual-level data on childhood lead levels and test scores in Massachusetts, this paper investigates the link between lead levels in early childhood in the 1990s and student test scores in elementary school in the 2000s. Elevated levels of blood lead in early childhood are shown to adversely impact standardized test performance, even when controlling for community and school characteristics. Accordingly, public health policy that reduced childhood lead levels in the 1990s was responsible for modest but statistically significant improvements in test performance in the 2000s, with particular benefits for children in low-income communities.

Suggested Citation

  • Jessica W. Reyes, 2011. "Childhood lead and academic performance in Massachusetts," New England Public Policy Center Working Paper 11-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbcw:11-3
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    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/neppc/wp/2011/neppcwp113.htm
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    File URL: http://www.bostonfed.org/economic/neppc/wp/2011/neppcwp113.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2001. "All School Finance Equalizations are Not Created Equal," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1189-1231.
    2. repec:pri:rpdevs:case_and_paxson_early_life_health_w15637 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:pri:cheawb:case_and_paxson_early_life_health_w15637 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2010. "Causes and consequences of early-life health," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 47(1), pages 65-85, March.
    5. repec:pri:cheawb:case_and_paxson_early_life_health_w15637.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
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    Keywords

    Achievement tests;

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