NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Jeff Lingwall

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October 2012Do Schooling Laws Matter? Evidence from the Introduction of Compulsory Attendance Laws in the United States
with Karen Clay, Melvin Stephens, Jr.: w18477
This paper examines the effects of introducing compulsory attendance laws on the schooling of U.S. children for three overlapping time periods: 1880-1927, 1890-1927, and 1898-1927. The previous literature finds little effect of the laws, which is somewhat surprising given that the passage of these laws coincided with rising attendance. Using administrative panel data, this paper finds that laws passed after 1880 had significant effects on enrollment and attendance. Laws passed after 1890, for which both administrative and retrospective census data are available, had significant effects on enrollment, attendance, and educational outcomes. In both cases, the timing of increases in enrollment and attendance is consistent with a causal effect of the laws. For men in the 1898-1927 period who ...

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