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Trends in Black-White Test-Score Differentials


  • R. M. Hauser
  • M. H. Huang


Until the 1970s, there were few signs of change in the historic difference of one standard deviation between average ability or achievement test scores of blacks and whites in the United States. From about 1970 to the mid- to late 1980s, there was a substantial convergence of the average achievement test scores of black and white youth; however, from the mid- to late 1980s to 1992, test scores began to diverge again. Although we place the greatest weight on data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the convergence also appeared in other test series. Herrnstein and Murray's highly visible work, The Bell Curve, stands almost alone in minimizing the importance of the convergent trend. We also find a longer-term trend of convergence between the verbal abilities of blacks and whites in data from the General Social Survey (GSS), which covers adult cohorts born since 1909.

Suggested Citation

  • R. M. Hauser & M. H. Huang, "undated". "Trends in Black-White Test-Score Differentials," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1110-96, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  • Handle: RePEc:wop:wispod:1110-96

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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 869-895, October.
    2. Sanders Korenman & Christopher Winship, 1995. "A Reanalysis of The Bell Curve," NBER Working Papers 5230, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Heckman, James J, 1995. "Lessons from the Bell Curve," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(5), pages 1091-1120, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Haile, Getinet & Nguyen, Ngoc Anh, 2007. "Determinants of Academic Attainment in the US: a Quantile regression analysis of test scores," MPRA Paper 4626, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Harry J. Holzer & Paul Offner & Elaine Sorensen, 2005. "Declining employment among young black less-educated men: The role of incarceration and child support," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(2), pages 329-350.
    3. Eric A. Hanushek, "undated". "The Evidence on Class Size," Wallis Working Papers WP10, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
    4. Eric A. Hanushek & Julie A. Somers, 1999. "Schooling, Inequality, and the Impact of Government," NBER Working Papers 7450, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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