Urban Poverty, School Attendance, and Adolescent Labor Force Attachment: Some Historical Evidence
It is well known that children raised in poverty demonstrate lower academic achievement than children raised in affluence. This study extends previous studies in three ways. First, it estimates structural instead of reduced-form models of child academic attainment. Such structural models explicitly account for choices made by children themselves, given choices made by parents and governments. Second, it provides an historical insight into the connections between poverty, child choices and educational outcomes. Nearly all extent work considers the late 20th century. This study uses a unique data set from the mid-nineteenth century. And, third, this study documents the choices underlying adolescent labor force participation. Youth in poor households are more likely than affluent youth to be asked to contribute income to the household. The choice to do so is influenced by parental choices and the expected reduction in the child's later-life wealth attributable to choosing work over additional schooling.
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