Human capital accumulation among Native Americans : an empirical analysis of the national assessment of educational progress
Fischer, Stefanie Jane
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Native Americans have low levels of human capital accumulation. In 2005, only 21% scored at the proficient level on the NAEP math test compared with 37% of all other test takers. One cause of their low human capital accumulation may be factors that commonly explain low academic performance among other minority groups within the United States, such as school quality and family background. Alternatively, Native American students may perform low academically due to factors that are unique to this population such as living on Native land or the political institutions that govern them. This paper will empirically examine Native American students' human capital accumulation decisions. Using data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), I find Native American students residing on Native land score 1/4 of a standard deviation lower on the math assessment than Native American students living off Native land, with no other controls added. After controlling for other area characteristics, family background, peer effects and school resources, the effect of living on Native land is not statistically significant in explaining test scores. Family background and peer effects explain most of the variation in Native American students' human capital accumulation decision. Students who identify with the white peer group score 1/5 of a standard deviation higher than students who identify with the Native American peer group. Although legal institutions do not explain student test scores, they do appear to affect students' attendance. Students living in areas under tribal jurisdiction are 13% more likely to miss a week or more of school in a month, ceteris paribus.