IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/6144.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why the United States Led in Education: Lessons from Secondary School Expansion, 1910 to 1940

Author

Listed:
  • Claudia Goldin
  • Lawrence F. Katz

Abstract

The second transformation' of U.S. education the growth of secondary schooling occurred swiftly in the early 1900s and placed the educational attainment of Americans far ahead of that in other nations for much of the twentieth century. Just 9 percent of U.S. youths had high school diplomas in 1910, but more than 50 percent did by 1940. By the mid-1950s the United States was 35 years in front of the United Kingdom in the educational attainment of 14 to 17-year olds. What can explain why secondary schooling advanced in the United States, why differences in secondary schooling emerged across U.S. states and cities, and why America led the world in educational attainment for much of the twentieth century? Although we motivate the paper with international comparisons, the core of the analysis exploits the considerable cross-state, cross-city, and time-series variation within the United States. The areas of the United States that led in secondary school education (the Far West, Great Plains, and parts of New England) were rich in income and wealth, had high proportions of the elderly, and had relative equality of wealth or income. Given wealth, they also contained a low proportion of jobs in manufacturing and low percentages immigrant and Catholic. Homogeneity of economic and social conditions, and the social stability of community, given a modicum of income or wealth, also fostered the extension of education to the secondary school level.

Suggested Citation

  • Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "Why the United States Led in Education: Lessons from Secondary School Expansion, 1910 to 1940," NBER Working Papers 6144, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6144
    Note: DAE LS
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6144.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 223-251, April.
      • Barro, R.J. & Sala-I-Martin, X., 1991. "Convergence," Papers 645, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
      • Barro, Robert J. & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Scholarly Articles 3451299, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    2. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
    3. Robert J. Barro & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1991. "Convergence across States and Regions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 22(1), pages 107-182.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods and Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284.
    5. Becker, Gary S & Murphy, Kevin M, 1988. "The Family and the State," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 1-18, April.
    6. Caroline Minter Hoxby, 1996. "Are Efficiency and Equity in School Finance Substitutes or Complements?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 51-72, Fall.
    7. Margo, Robert A. & Aldrich Finegan, T., 1996. "Compulsory schooling legislation and school attendance in turn-of-the century America: A 'natural experiment' approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 103-110, October.
    8. Lindert, Peter H., 1996. "What Limits Social Spending?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 1-34, January.
    9. Maddison, Angus, 1987. "Growth and Slowdown in Advanced Capitalist Economies: Techniques of Quantitative Assessment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 25(2), pages 649-698, June.
    10. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E., 1996. "Ends against the middle: Determining public service provision when there are private alternatives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 297-325, November.
    11. Easterlin, Richard A., 1981. "Why Isn't the Whole World Developed?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(1), pages 1-17, March.
    12. 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(1), pages 54-91, March.
    13. Raquel Fernandez & Richard Rogerson, 1995. "On the Political Economy of Education Subsidies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(2), pages 249-262.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Gilat Levy, 2005. "The Politics of Public Provision of Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1507-1534.
    2. Michael Kaganovich & Volker Meier, 2012. "Social Security Systems, Human Capital, and Growth in a Small Open Economy," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 14(4), pages 573-600, August.
    3. Hal Hill & Budy Resosudarmo & Yogi Vidyattama, 2008. "Indonesia'S Changing Economic Geography," Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(3), pages 407-435.
    4. Di Vaio, Gianfranco & Enflo, Kerstin, 2011. "Did globalization drive convergence? Identifying cross-country growth regimes in the long run," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(6), pages 832-844, August.
    5. Soares, Jorge, 2003. "Self-interest and public funding of education," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(3-4), pages 703-727, March.
    6. Anil Rupasingha & Stephan J. Goetz & David Freshwater, 2002. "Social and institutional factors as determinants of economic growth: Evidence from the United States counties," Papers in Regional Science, Springer;Regional Science Association International, vol. 81(2), pages 139-155.
    7. Kammas, Pantelis & Litina, Anastasia & Palivos, Theodore, 2013. "The Quality of Public Education in Unequal Societies: The Role of Tax Institutions," MPRA Paper 52193, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Levy, Gilat, 2004. "Public education for the minority, private education for the majority," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3617, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Rainald Borck, 2005. "Voting, Inequality, and Redistribution," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 503, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    10. Barro, Robert J & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 223-251, April.
      • Barro, R.J. & Sala-I-Martin, X., 1991. "Convergence," Papers 645, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
      • Barro, Robert J. & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1992. "Convergence," Scholarly Articles 3451299, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    11. Kenneth Button, 2011. "The Economist’s Perspective on Regional Endogenous Development," Chapters, in: Robert Stimson & Roger R. Stough & Peter Nijkamp (ed.),Endogenous Regional Development, chapter 2, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Warwick J. McKibbin & David Pearce & Alison Stagman, 2004. "Long Run Projections for Climate Change Scenarios," Economics and Environment Network Working Papers 0405, Australian National University, Economics and Environment Network.
    13. Coen-Pirani, Daniele, 2011. "Immigration and spending on public education: California, 1970–2000," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1386-1396.
    14. Alexander Kemnitz & Robert K. von Weizsäcker, 2003. "Bildungsreform in der Demokratie," Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung / Quarterly Journal of Economic Research, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 72(2), pages 188-204.
    15. Barro, R.J. & Sala-i-Martin, X., 1991. "Regional Growth and Migration: a Japan - U.S. Comparaison," Papers 650, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    16. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2003. "The "Virtues" of the Past: Education in the First Hundred Years of the New Republic," NBER Working Papers 9958, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Tugrul Gurgur, 2016. "Voice, exit and local capture in public provision of private goods," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 17(4), pages 397-424, November.
    18. Mohammad Ashraf & Khan A. Mohabbat, 2010. "Output Convergence and the Role of Research and Development," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 11(1), pages 35-71, May.
    19. Erich Gundlach, 1997. "Openness and economic growth in developing countries," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 133(3), pages 479-496, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6144. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.