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The Labor of Division: Returns to Compulsory High School Math Coursework

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  • Joshua Goodman

Abstract

Despite great focus on and public investment in STEM education, little causal evidence connects quantitative coursework to students’ economic outcomes. I show that state changes in minimum high school math requirements substantially increase black students’ completed math coursework and their later earnings. The marginal student’s return to an additional math course is 10 percent, roughly half the return to a year of high school, and is partly explained by a shift toward more cognitively skilled occupations. Whites’ coursework and earnings are unaffected. Rigorous standards for quantitative coursework can close meaningful portions of racial gaps in economic outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Goodman, 2017. "The Labor of Division: Returns to Compulsory High School Math Coursework," NBER Working Papers 23063, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23063
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    1. repec:nbr:nberch:13934 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Aaron Chatterji, 2017. "Innovation and American K-12 Education," NBER Working Papers 23531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Catherine J. Weinberger, 2017. "Engineering Educational Opportunity: Impacts of 1970s and 1980s Policies to Increase the Share of Black College Graduates with Major in Engineering or Computer Science," NBER Working Papers 23703, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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