IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/8563.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Were Compulsory Attendance and Child Labor Laws Effective? An Analysis from 1915 to 1939

Author

Listed:
  • Adriana Lleras-Muney

Abstract

Secondary schooling experienced incredible growth in the first 40 years of the 20th Century. Was legislation on compulsory attendance and child labor responsible for this growth? Using individual data from the 1960 census, I estimate the effect of several laws on educational attainment for individuals who were 14 years old between 1915 and 1939. The results show that legally requiring a child to attend school for one more year, either by increasing the age required to obtain a work permit or by lowering the entrance age, increased educational attainment by about 5%. The effect was similar for white males and females, but there was no effect for blacks. Continuation school laws, which required working children to attend school on a part time basis, were effective for white males only. These laws increased the education only of those in the lower percentiles of the distribution of education. By increasing the education of the lower tail, the laws contributed to the decrease in educational inequality, perhaps by as much as 15%. States with more wealth and a higher percentage of immigrants were more likely to pass more stringent laws, and states with higher percentage of blacks were less likely to do so. Importantly, the results suggest that the laws were not endogenous during this period.

Suggested Citation

  • Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2001. "Were Compulsory Attendance and Child Labor Laws Effective? An Analysis from 1915 to 1939," NBER Working Papers 8563, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8563
    Note: LS ED
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8563.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Goldin, Claudia, 1979. "Household and market production of families in a late nineteenth century American city," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 111-131, April.
    2. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1992. "School Quality and Black-White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 151-200.
    3. Claudia Goldin, 1994. "How America Graduated from High School: 1910 to 1960," NBER Working Papers 4762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
    5. David Card & Alan B. Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 31-50, Fall.
    6. 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.
    7. Kevin Lang & David Kropp, 1986. "Human Capital Versus Sorting: The Effects of Compulsory Attendance Laws," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(3), pages 609-624.
    8. John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2002. "Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 784-815, October.
    9. George J. Stigler, 1950. "Employment and Compensation in Education," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number stig50-1, January.
    10. Welch, Finis, 1973. "Black-White Differences in Returns to Schooling," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(5), pages 893-907, December.
    11. Chiswick, Barry R, 1969. "Minimum Schooling Legislation and the Cross-Sectional Distribution of Income," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 79(315), pages 495-507, September.
    12. Juhn, Chinhui & Murphy, Kevin M & Pierce, Brooks, 1993. "Wage Inequality and the Rise in Returns to Skill," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(3), pages 410-442, June.
    13. Card, David, 2001. "Estimating the Return to Schooling: Progress on Some Persistent Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1127-1160, September.
    14. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1999. "How Large are the Social Returns to Education? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws," NBER Working Papers 7444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. repec:fth:prinin:366 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. John Bound & David A. Jaeger, 1996. "On the Validity of Season of Birth as an Instrument in Wage Equations: A Comment on Angrist & Krueger's "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Scho," NBER Working Papers 5835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Claudia Goldin, 1994. "Appendix to: "How America Graduated from High School, 1910 to 1960", Construction of State-Level Secondary School Data," NBER Historical Working Papers 0057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "Human Capital and Social Capital: The Rise of Secondary Schooling in America, 1910 to 1940," NBER Working Papers 6439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Margo, Robert A, 1986. "Educational Achievement in Segregated School Systems: The Effects of "Separate-but-Equal."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 794-801, September.
    20. 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.
    21. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," Working Papers 745, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    22. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
    23. Moehling, Carolyn M., 1999. "State Child Labor Laws and the Decline of Child Labor," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 72-106, January.
    24. 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.
    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. repec:pri:cheawb:llerasmuney1 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2008. "Mass Secondary Schooling and the State: The Role of State Compulsion in the High School Movement," NBER Chapters, in: Understanding Long-Run Economic Growth: Geography, Institutions, and the Knowledge Economy, pages 275-310, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marco Manacorda, 2006. "Child Labor and the Labor Supply of Other Household Members: Evidence from 1920 America," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1788-1801, December.
    4. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 189-221.
    5. repec:hrv:faseco:33901525 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Peter Rangazas, 2002. "The Quantity and Quality of Schooling and U.S. Labor Productivity Growth (1870-2000)," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 932-964, October.
    7. Angel de la Fuente & Antonio Ciccone, 2003. "Human capital in a global and knowledge-based economy," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 562.03, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    8. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1999. "How Large are the Social Returns to Education? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws," NBER Working Papers 7444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Sonja Fagernäs, 2011. "Protection through Proof of Age. Birth Registration and Child Labor in Early 20th Century USA," Working Paper Series 2311, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    10. Maria Iacovou, 2002. "Class Size in the Early Years: Is Smaller Really Better?," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 261-290.
    11. Cécile Bonneau, 2020. "The Concentration of investment in education in the US (1970-2018)," Working Papers halshs-02875965, HAL.
    12. Aakvik, Arild & Salvanes, Kjell G. & Vaage, Kjell, 2003. "Measuring Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education in Norway Using Educational Reforms," IZA Discussion Papers 815, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Walde, Klaus, 2000. "Egalitarian and elitist education systems as the basis for international differences in wage inequality," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 445-468, September.
    14. Giorgio Brunello & Margherita Fort & Guglielmo Weber, 2009. "Changes in Compulsory Schooling, Education and the Distribution of Wages in Europe," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(536), pages 516-539, March.
    15. Frisvold, David & Golberstein, Ezra, 2011. "School quality and the education–health relationship: Evidence from Blacks in segregated schools," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1232-1245.
    16. Susan Dynarski, 2008. "Building the Stock of College-Educated Labor," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(3), pages 576-610.
    17. Rangazas, Peter, 2000. "Schooling and economic growth: A King-Rebelo experiment with human capital," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 397-416, October.
    18. David Card & Ciprian Domnisoru & Lowell Taylor, 2022. "The Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Evidence from the Golden Age of Upward Mobility," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(S1), pages 39-95.
    19. Drusilla K. Brown & Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 2009. "The Effects of Multinational Production on Wages and Working Conditions in Developing Countries," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Globalization And International Trade Policies, chapter 17, pages 623-687, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    20. Sophie van Huellen & Duo Qin, 2019. "Compulsory Schooling and Returns to Education: A Re-Examination," Econometrics, MDPI, vol. 7(3), pages 1-20, September.
    21. Deniz Ozabaci & Daniel Henderson, 2015. "Additive kernel estimates of returns to schooling," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 48(1), pages 227-251, February.
    22. Fagernäs, Sonja, 2014. "Papers, please! The effect of birth registration on child labor and education in early 20th century USA," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 63-92.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:8563. 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: https://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 bibliographic 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.

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

    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.