The Impact of Rosenwald Schools on Black Achievement (REVISED September 2011)
The Black-White gap in schooling among Southern-born men narrowed sharply between the World Wars. From 1914 to 1931, nearly 5,000 schools were constructed as part of the Rosenwald Rural Schools Initiative. Using Census data and World War II records, we find that the Rosenwald program accounts for a sizable portion of the educational gains of rural Southern Blacks. We find significant effects on school attendance, literacy, years of schooling, cognitive test scores, and Northern migration. The gains are highest in the most disadvantaged counties, suggesting that schooling treatments have the largest impact among those with limited access to education.