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

  • Petra E. Todd

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Kenneth I. Wolpin

    ()

    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

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.

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File URL: http://economics.sas.upenn.edu/system/files/working-papers/04-019.pdf
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Paper provided by Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania in its series PIER Working Paper Archive with number 04-019.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: 26 Apr 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:04-019
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  9. Neal, Derek A & Johnson, William R, 1996. "The Role of Premarket Factors in Black-White Wage Differences," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 869-95, October.
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  25. Eric A. Hanushek, 1998. "Conclusions and controversies about the effectiveness of school resources," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Mar, pages 11-27.
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  27. 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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