School Quality and Black/White Relative Earnings: A Direct Assessment
The wage differential between black and white men fell from 40 percent in 1960 to 25 percent in 1980. It has been argued that this convergence reflects improvements in the relative quality of black schools. To test this hypothesis, the authors assembled data on pupil-teacher ratios, annual teacher pay, and term length for black and white schools in the eighteen segregated states from 1915 to 1966. These data are linked to estimated returns to education for Southern-born men from different cohorts and states in 1960, 1970, and 1980. Improvements in the relative quality of black schools explain 20 percent of the narrowing of the black-white earnings gap between 1960 and 1980. Copyright 1992, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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