Can role models from the same group enhance educational outcomes of disadvantaged minority students? We analyze the election of Douglas Wilder in Virginia in 1989, who was the first African American to serve as governor in the US. Results from two difference-in-differences estimations demonstrate increased educational attainment among Blacks in Virginia after that election. Additional survey evidence points to an increase in Black youths' aspirations as one of the mechanisms explaining this effect. Our findings thus suggest that increasing exposure to Black politicians in high-stakes positions might contribute to narrowing the White-Black gap in education in the U.S.
|CentER Discussion Paper
- political leaders