Changes over Time in the Black-White Difference on Mental Tests
Evidence from the Children of the 1979 Cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth

Data for three Peabody achievement tests and for the Peabody picture vocabulary test administered to children of women in the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth show that the black-white difference did not diminish for this sample of children born from the mid 1970s through the mid 1990s. This finding persists after entering covariates for the child's age and family background variables. It is robust across alternative samples and specifications of the model. The analysis supplements other evidence that shows no narrowing of the black-white difference in academic achievement tests since the late 1980s and is inconsistent with recent evidence that narrowing occurred in IQ standardizations during the same period. A hypothesis for reconciling this inconsistency is proposed.

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Charles Murray is the W. H. Brady Scholar at AEI.

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Charles
Murray
  • Charles Murray is a political scientist, author, and libertarian. He first came to national attention in 1984 with the publication of Losing Ground, which has been credited as the intellectual foundation for the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. His 1994 New York Times bestseller, The Bell Curve (Free Press, 1994), coauthored with the late Richard J. Herrnstein, sparked heated controversy for its analysis of the role of IQ in shaping America’s class structure. Murray's other books include What It Means to Be a Libertarian (1997), Human Accomplishment (2003), In Our Hands (2006), and Real Education (2008). His most recent book, Coming Apart (Crown Forum, 2012), describes an unprecedented divergence in American classes over the last half century.


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