DP5661 The Dynamics of the Racial Test Score Gap During the School Years in Britain

Author(s): Eleonora Patacchini, Yves Zenou
Publication Date: May 2006
Keyword(s): cultural differences, education, ethnic minorities, parental involvement
JEL(s): I21, J15, J24
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5661

We investigate the racial gap in test scores between white and non-white students in Britain both in levels and differences across the school years. We find that there is a substantial racial gap in test scores, especially between ages 7 and 11, and a less severe one between ages 11 and 16. It thus seems that nonwhites are losing ground at school, especially during the first five years. We then investigate the reasons behind this racial gap and its evolution. We focus on racial differences in parents' involvement in education. We find that a non-negligible part of the test score racial gap can be explained by these cultural differences. In particular, we show that if non-white parents would invest in education of their 11 year-old children as much as white parents do, then the racial test score gap in reading and mathematics would be reduced by 18.1 and 7.2 percent, respectively.