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Schooling and the AFQT: evidence from school entry laws

  • Elizabeth Cascio
  • Ethan Lewis

Is the Armed Forces Qualifying Test (AFQT) a measure of achievement or ability? The answer to this question is critical for drawing inferences from studies in which it is employed. 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 cohort—the year in which an individual should have entered first grade—in a model that 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 racial minorities, providing support for the hypothesis that the AFQT measures school achievement.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia in its series Working Papers with number 05-1.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:05-1
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  1. Murnane, Richard J & Willett, John B & Levy, Frank, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 251-66, May.
  2. Roland G. Fryer, Jr. & Steven D. Levitt, 2002. "Understanding the Black-White Test Score Gap in the First Two Years of School," NBER Working Papers 8975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J. & Mullen, K.J.Kathleen J., 2004. "The effect of schooling and ability on achievement test scores," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 39-98.
  5. McKinley L. Blackburn & David Neumark, 1991. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," NBER Working Papers 3693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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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