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The Production of Cognitive Achievement in Children: Home, School and Racial Test Score Gaps

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Listed:
  • Petra E. Todd

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Kenneth I. Wolpin

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

This paper studies the determinants of children’s scores on tests of cognitive achievement in math and reading. Using rich longitudinal data on test scores, home environments, and schools, we implement alternative specifications for the production function for achievement and test their assumptions. We do not find support for commonly used restrictive models that assume test scores depend only on contemporaneous inputs or that assume conditioning in a lagged score captures the effects of all past inputs. Instead, the results show that both contemporaneous and lagged inputs matter in the production of current achievement and that it is important to allow for unobserved child-specific endowment effects and endogeneity of inputs. Using a specification that incorporates these features, we analyze sources of test score gaps between black, white and Hispanic children. The estimated model captures key patterns in the data, such as the widening of minority-white test score gaps with age, which is most pronounced for black children.

Suggested Citation

  • Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2004. "The Production of Cognitive Achievement in Children: Home, School and Racial Test Score Gaps," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-019, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:04-019
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education production function; racial test score gaps; school quality; child development and cognitive achievement;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General

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