School Spirit: Exploring the Long-Term Effects of the U.S. Temperance Movement on Educational Attainment

Economics of Education Review, 62: 162-169 (2018)

26 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2017

See all articles by Andrew Francis-Tan

Andrew Francis-Tan

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Cheryl Tan

Emory University - Rollins School of Public Health

Ruhan Zhang

University of Chicago - Department of Statistics

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

This study examines the long-term consequences of the U.S. temperance movement, one of the largest-scale policy changes impacting alcohol consumption in history. Using a sample of persons born between 1900 and 1925 drawn from nationally representative census microdata, the study investigates the effect of prenatal temperance environment on adult educational outcomes. The quantitative analysis uses proxies for temperance environment: the strength of temperance laws and the density of liquor retailers. In sum, the evidence suggests that men and women exposed to the temperance movement in utero had modestly higher education. The effect on eighth grade completion was weakly significant at best, while the effect on high school completion was robustly significant, though relatively small in magnitude. Estimates imply that the adoption of temperance laws increased the odds of high school completion by about 3-8%, and analogously that the reduction of retail liquor density, to the extent it changed from 1913 to 1921, increased the odds of high school completion by about 4-8%. The findings are consistent with several causal mechanisms including a reduction in fetal alcohol exposure and the adverse developmental outcomes with which it is associated.

Keywords: temperance movement, educational attainment, prenatal environment, alcohol policy, early twentieth century history, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD)

JEL Classification: I12, I21, J18, K32

Suggested Citation

Francis-Tan, Andrew and Tan, Cheryl and Zhang, Ruhan, School Spirit: Exploring the Long-Term Effects of the U.S. Temperance Movement on Educational Attainment (2018). Economics of Education Review, 62: 162-169 (2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3083874

Andrew Francis-Tan (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy ( email )

Singapore 117591
Singapore

Cheryl Tan

Emory University - Rollins School of Public Health ( email )

Ruhan Zhang

University of Chicago - Department of Statistics ( email )

Eckhart Hall Room 108
5734 S. University Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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