Ronald C. Caldwell Jr obtained his PhD in Economics at the University of Washington in 2007, and is now an Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Kansas. His current poverty related research focuses on the causes of differences in skill acquisition between minority and white children and their impact on wage and income inequality.
The Effects of Affirmative Action Policies in University Admissions on Human Capital Development of Minority Children: A Test of the Expectations Hypothesis"
Faculty Supervisor: Shelley Lundberg, Department of Economics.
It has been well documented that minority children leave primary school with lower acquired skill levels than their white counterparts. The causes of this “skill gap”, however, are not entirely known. This paper attempted to analyze one possible cause: the impact of perceived labor market discrimination on human capital investment decisions by minority parents and children. Using the recent changes in affirmative action laws regarding university admissions in California and Texas and NLSY79 data, we employed a difference-in-difference–in-difference methodology to test for changes in achievement test scores among minority children between the ages of 7 and 14. The results show a large, highly significant drop in minority test scores among thirteen and fourteen year old African-Americans and Hispanics in the affected states. Younger age groups show negative, but insignificant effects. These results suggest that expectations do play a role in human capital investment of minority children and that further research in this area may be warranted.
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Kansas