Long-run Impacts of Agricultural Shocks on Educational Attainment: Evidence from the Boll Weevil
The boll weevil spread across the Southern United States from 1892 to 1922 having a devastating impact on cotton cultivation. The resulting shift away from this child labor–intensive crop lowered the opportunity cost of attending school, and thus the pest increased school enrollment and attendance. We investigate the insect’s long run affect on educational attainment using a sample of adults in 1940 linked back to themselves in childhood in the county in which they were likely educated. Both whites and blacks who were young (ages 4 to 9) when the boll weevil arrived saw increased educational attainment by 0.25 to 0.35 years. These findings are not driven by concurrent shocks and are not sensitive to linking method or sample selection. Our results demonstrate the potential for conflict between child labor in agriculture and educational attainment.
We thank workshop participants at University of California Davis, the 2018 World Economic History Congress, and North American Summer Meeting of the Econometric Society for their helpful comments and suggestions. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Richard B. Baker & John Blanchette & Katherine Eriksson, 2020. "Long-Run Impacts of Agricultural Shocks on Educational Attainment: Evidence from the Boll Weevil," The Journal of Economic History, vol 80(1), pages 136-174. citation courtesy of