Intergenerational Persistence in the Effects of Compulsory Schooling in the U.S.

47 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2024

See all articles by Titus J. Galama

Titus J. Galama

USC Center for Economic and Social Research

Andrei Munteanu

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Department of Economics

Kevin Thom

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Date Written: January 21, 2024

Abstract

Using linked records from the 1880 to 1940 full-count United States decennial censuses, we estimate the effects of parental exposure to compulsory schooling (CS) laws on the human capital outcomes of children, exploiting the staggered roll-out of state CS laws in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. CS reforms not only increased the educational attainment of exposed individuals, but also that of their children. We find that one extra year of maternal (paternal) exposure to CS increased children's educational attainment by 0.015 (0.016) years - larger than the average effects on the parents themselves, and larger than the few existing intergenerational estimates from studies of more recent reforms. We find particularly large effects on black families and first-born sons. Exploring mechanisms, we find suggestive evidence that higher parental
exposure to CS affected children's outcomes through higher own human capital, marriage to more educated spouses, and a higher propensity to reside in neighborhoods with greater school resources (teacher-to-student ratios) and with higher average educational attainment.

Suggested Citation

Galama, Titus J. and Munteanu, Andrei and Thom, Kevin, Intergenerational Persistence in the Effects of Compulsory Schooling in the U.S. (January 21, 2024). CESR-Schaeffer Working Paper No. 2024_001, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4704151 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4704151

Titus J. Galama (Contact Author)

USC Center for Economic and Social Research ( email )

Playa Vista, CA
United States
+310 430 6358 (Phone)

Andrei Munteanu

University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) - Department of Economics

Kevin Thom

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee ( email )

2442 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0729
United States

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