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Compulsory Schooling Laws

Compulsory schooling refers to a government policy that requires children to start school at a particular age and remain in school until they reach a certain age. Over the past 150 years, nearly all industrial nations (often through state-level legislation) have adopted compulsory schooling laws. These laws are typically accompanied by child labor laws that limit or prohibit employment of young workers. The labor restrictions reduce labor market prospects for young workers, so the opportunity cost of remaining in school is reduced. This entry describes the rationale for compulsory schooling laws and examines the effects of these laws historically in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

The premise of compulsory schooling laws is that without them many youths would leave school too early, whereas further schooling ...

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