by Alberto Davila and Marie T. Mora
“Using panel data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS), we first analyze how civic engagement (measured in terms of community service and participation in student government) undertaken at the high school level varies across race/ethnicity and gender. Our findings indicate that female high school students tend to be more civically engaged than males in the same race/ethnic group. Also, Asian students have the highest participation rates in civic activities out of the four race/ethnic groups considered here (non-Hispanic whites, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians); Hispanics tend to be the least involved. Underlying preferences, college aspirations, and opportunity costs explain a large part of these inter-gender and inter-ethnic differences in civic engagement. This study also investigates whether civic engagement differently affects scholastic progress in four academic disciplines and subsequent educational attainment along racial/ethnic and gender lines. The empirical results show that when controlling for a host of socioeconomic characteristics, community service activities required for classes have slightly larger effects on the academic progress of males versus females, but similar effects across race/ethnicity. Finally, performing community service during high school significantly enhances the odds of subsequent college graduation overall, although less so for Hispanic females than their non-Hispanic peers.”
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