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CEP Discussion Paper
Oil Discoveries and Education Spending in the Postbellum South
Stephan E. Maurer
January 2018
Paper No' CEPDP1526:
Full Paper (pdf)

JEL Classification: I2; N3; Q3

Tags: oil; education; race; rosenwald; local public finances; resource booms; teachers

This paper studies the effect of oil wealth on the provision of education in the early 20th century United States. Using information on the location and discovery of major oil fields, I find that oil wealth increased local revenue and education spending. The quality of white teachers increased, and oil-rich counties were more likely to participate in the Rosenwald school building program for blacks. In addition, student-teacher ratios for black school children declined substantially. However, I do not find increased school enrolment rates for either race.