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The nineteenth and twentieth century saw two waves of state schooling laws. The first wave focused on children to age 14 and the second wave focused on high school. Using the full count 1940 census and a new coding of state laws, this paper provides new estimates of the effects of the first wave of laws. The analysis focuses on cohorts of prime working age between 1910 and 1940. IV estimates of returns to schooling range from 0.067 to 0.077. Quantile IV estimates show the returns were largest for the lowest quantiles, and were generally monotonically decreasing for higher quantiles.

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This is an author-produced, peer-reviewed version of this article. The final, definitive version of this document can be found online at Labour Economics, published by Elsevier. Copyright restrictions may apply.