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American Economic Review: Vol. 103 No. 2 (April 2013)

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Testing for Racial Differences in the Mental Ability of Young Children

Article Citation

Fryer, Roland G. Jr., and Steven D. Levitt. 2013. "Testing for Racial Differences in the Mental Ability of Young Children." American Economic Review, 103(2): 981-1005.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.2.981

Abstract

Using a new nationally representative dataset, we find minor differences in test outcomes between black and white infants that disappear with a limited set of controls. However, relative to whites, all other races lose substantial ground by age two. Combining our estimates with results in prior literature, we show that a simple model with assortative mating fits our data well, implying that differences in children's environments between racial groups can fully explain gaps in intelligence. If parental ability influences a child's test scores both genetically and through environment, then our findings are less informative and can be reconciled with a wide range of racial differences in inherited intelligence.

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Authors

Fryer, Roland G. Jr.(Harvard U)
Levitt, Steven D. (U Chicago)

JEL Classifications

I20: Education and Research Institutions: General
J13: Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
J15: Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination


American Economic Review


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