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Testing for Racial Differences in the Mental Ability of Young Children

  • Roland G. Fryer
  • Steven D. Levitt

On tests of intelligence, Blacks systematically score worse than Whites, whereas Asians frequently outperform Whites. Some have argued that genetic differences across races account for the gap. Using a newly available nationally representative data set that includes a test of mental function for children aged eight to twelve months, we find only minor racial differences in test outcomes (0.06 standard deviation units in the raw data) between Blacks and Whites that disappear with the inclusion of a limited set of controls. The only statistically significant racial difference is that Asian children score slightly worse than those of other races. To the extent that there are any genetically-driven racial differences in intelligence, these gaps must either emerge after the age of one, or operate along dimensions not captured by this early test of mental cognition.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w12066.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12066.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12066
Note: LS
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  1. 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.
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