NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Do Schooling Laws Matter? Evidence from the Introduction of Compulsory Attendance Laws in the United States

Karen Clay, Jeff Lingwall, Melvin Stephens, Jr.

NBER Working Paper No. 18477
Issued in October 2012
NBER Program(s):   DAE   LS

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 reported positive wage income in the 1940 census, compulsory attendance laws increased schooling and wage income. The OLS estimates of the return to a year of schooling are 8 percent and the IV estimates are 11 to 14 percent.

download in pdf format
   (943 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (943 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18477

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Stephens and Yang w19369 Compulsory Education and the Benefits of Schooling
Carlsson, Dahl, and Rooth w18484 The Effect of Schooling on Cognitive Skills
Acemoglu and Angrist w7444 How Large are the Social Returns to Education? Evidence from Compulsory Schooling Laws
Billings, Deming, and Rockoff w18487 School Segregation, Educational Attainment and Crime: Evidence from the end of busing in Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Hoynes, Schanzenbach, and Almond w18535 Long Run Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us