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Compulsory Schooling Legislation and School Attendance in Turn-of-the-Century America: A "Natural Experiment" Approach

  • Robert A. Margo
  • T. Aldrich Finegan

Recent research by Joshua Angrist and Alan Krueger has used information on exact dates of birth in the 1960 to 1980 federal censuses to study the impact of compulsory schooling laws on school attendance. This paper modifies their methodology to analyze similar data in the 1900 federal census to measure the impact of turn-of-the-century compulsory schooling laws. Using data on 14-year olds from the 1900 census public use microdata sample we compare attendance rates of children born after January 1, 1900 with those born before, across states with and without compulsory schooling laws. In states that combined school-leaving with child labor laws, we find that compulsion significantly raised attendance rates.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/h0089.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Historical Working Papers with number 0089.

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Date of creation: Jul 1996
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Economic Letters, 53, (October1996), : pp.103-110.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0089
Note: DAE
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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Web page: http://www.nber.org
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  1. Angrist, Joshua D & Krueger, Alan B, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014, November.
  2. Jeremy Atack & Fred Bateman, 1991. "Whom Did Protective Legislation Protect? Evidence From 1880," NBER Historical Working Papers 0033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Landes, William M. & Solmon, Lewis C., 1972. "Compulsory Schooling Legislation: An Economic Analysis of Law and Social Change in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(01), pages 54-91, March.
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