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

61 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2012

See all articles by Karen Clay

Karen Clay

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Jeff Lingwall

Truman State University

Melvin Stephens

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 2012

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Clay, Karen B. and Lingwall, Jeff and Stephens, Melvin, Do Schooling Laws Matter? Evidence from the Introduction of Compulsory Attendance Laws in the United States (October 2012). NBER Working Paper No. w18477. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2164601

Karen B. Clay (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Jeff Lingwall

Truman State University ( email )

100 E. Normal Street
Kirksville, MO 63501
United States

Melvin Stephens

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Economics ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
9
Abstract Views
445
PlumX Metrics