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America's Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century

  • Claudia Goldin (a1)

Secondary-school enrollment and graduation rates increased spectacularly in much of the United States from 1910 to 1940; the advance was particularly rapid from 1920 to 1935 in the nonsouthern states. This increase was uniquely American; no other nation underwent an equivalent change for several decades. States that rapidly expanded their high school enrollments early in the period had greater wealth, more homogeneity of wealth, and less manufacturing activity than others. Factors prompting the expansion include the substantial returns to education early in the century and a responsive “state.” This work is based on a newly constructed state-level data set.

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Robert Barro . Determinants of Economic Growth: A Cross-County Empirical Study. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997.

Robert Barro , and Sala-I-Mantin Xavier . “Convergence across States and Regions,” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Vol 1. Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 1991: 107–82.

Bruce Fuller . “Youth Job Structure and School Enrollment, 1890–1920,” Sociology of Education 56, no. 3 (1983): 145–56.

Claudia Goldin , and Robert A. Margo . “The Great Compression: The Wage Structure in the United States at Mid-Century,” Quarterly Journal of Economics 107, no. 1 (1992): 134.

Donald Parsons , and Claudia Goldin . “Parental Altruism and Self Interest: Child Labor among Late-Nineteenth Century American Families,” Economic Inquiry 27, no. 4 (1989): 637–59.

Martin Trow . “The Second Transformation of American Secondary Education,” International Journal of Comparative Sociology 2, no. 2 (1961): 144–66.

Pamela B. Walters , and Philip J. O'Connell . “The Family Economy, Work, and Education Participation in the United States, 1890–1940,” American Journal of Sociology 93, no. 5 (1988): 1116–52.

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The Journal of Economic History
  • ISSN: 0022-0507
  • EISSN: 1471-6372
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-economic-history
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