The Nels Curve: Replicating the Bell Curve Analyses with the National Education Longitudinal Study

Posted: 9 Feb 2000

See all articles by David I. Levine

David I. Levine

University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group

Gary Painter

University of Southern California - Sol Price School of Public Policy

Abstract

This study uses the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS) to replicate both the analysis in The Bell Curve and that of several of its previous replications. We examine the relative importance of test scores and family background in predicting dropping out of high school, starting college, arrests, and out-of-wedlock fertility. Our results relax several arbitrary assumptions made in The Bell Curve. We strongly reject The Bell Curve's conclusion that family background is almost always less important than test scores in predicting outcomes. In addition, our analysis casts doubt on some of The Bell Curve's claims concerning reverse discrimination in education.

JEL Classification: J12, J24

Suggested Citation

Levine, David Ian and Painter, Gary, The Nels Curve: Replicating the Bell Curve Analyses with the National Education Longitudinal Study. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=194872

David Ian Levine (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-1697 (Phone)
510-643-1420 (Fax)

Gary Painter

University of Southern California - Sol Price School of Public Policy ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089-0626
United States
213-740-8754 (Phone)
213-740-0001 (Fax)

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