NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Impact of Youth Service on Future Outcomes: Evidence from Teach For America

Will Dobbie, Roland G. Fryer, Jr

NBER Working Paper No. 17402
Issued in September 2011
NBER Program(s):Economics of Education, Labor Studies

Nearly one million American youth have participated in service programs such as Peace Corps and Teach For America. This paper provides the first causal estimate of the impact of service programs on those who serve, using data from a web-based survey of former Teach For America applicants. We estimate the effect of voluntary youth service using a sharp discontinuity in the Teach For America application process. Participating in Teach For America increases racial tolerance, makes individuals more optimistic about the life chances of poor children, and makes them more likely to work in education. We argue that these facts are broadly consistent with the "Contact Hypothesis," which states that, under appropriate conditions, interpersonal contact can reduce prejudice.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17402

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