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Intersectional InequalityRace, Class, Test Scores, and Poverty$
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Charles C. Ragin and Peer C. Fiss

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226414379

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226414546.001.0001

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date: 27 May 2020

Policy Context: Test Scores and Life Chances

Policy Context: Test Scores and Life Chances

Chapter:
(p.20) Two Policy Context: Test Scores and Life Chances
Source:
Intersectional Inequality
Author(s):

Charles C. Ragin

Peer C. Fiss

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226414546.003.0003

Chapter 2 reviews the Bell Curve debate, focusing on the controversy regarding the impact of test scores on life chances. We focus especially on the competing statistical models and insights offered by Herrnstein & Murray in The Bell Curve, on the one hand and those of Fischer et al.’s Inequality By Design, on the other. The contrast between these two works illustrates the specification dependence of estimates of net effects of test scores on poverty status. Herrnstein & Murray opt for lean specification, which yields a large net effect of test scores, while Fischer et al. specify an elaborate model, yielding a much smaller net effect of test scores. This entirely predictable difference underscores the limitations of the net effects approach to policy-relevant social research.

Keywords:   poverty, income inequality, social policy, test score gap, racial differences, gender differences, intelligence tests, effect sizes, model specification, The Bell Curve

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