Historical Perspectives on Racial Differences in Schooling in the United States

53 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2003 Last revised: 3 Nov 2010

See all articles by William J. Collins

William J. Collins

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics; The Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Robert A. Margo

Boston University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2003

Abstract

African-Americans entered the post-Civil War era with extremely low levels of exposure to schooling. Relying primarily on micro-level census data, we describe racial differences in literacy rates, school attendance, years of educational attainment, age-in-grade distributions, spending per pupil, and returns to literacy since emancipation, with emphasis on the pre-1960 period. The overwhelming theme is one of educational convergence, despite overt discrimination for much of the period studied, and subject to several qualifications. We interpret this theme in light of a simple model of educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

Collins, William J. and Margo, Robert A., Historical Perspectives on Racial Differences in Schooling in the United States (June 2003). NBER Working Paper No. w9770. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=416262

William J. Collins (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - College of Arts and Science - Department of Economics ( email )

Box 1819 Station B
Nashville, TN 37235
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615-322-3428 (Phone)

The Brookings Institution

1775 Massachusetts Ave. NW
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Robert A. Margo

Boston University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Boston, MA 02215
United States
617-353-6819 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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