Emergency Education and Social Inequalities: Evidence from WWII

Awarded Scholars:
Michela Giorcelli, University of California, Los Angeles
Project Date:
Nov 2023
Award Amount:

White men disproportionately occupy the highest-paid occupations and have better social and economic outcomes than Blacks and women. Because education is positively related to such outcomes, more limited access to educational opportunities for non-whites and women may have contributed to these racial and gender gaps. Economist Michela Giorcelli will analyze newly available historical data to examine the extent to which the Engineering, Science, and Management War Training (ESMWT) program increased access to post-secondary education for non-whites and women and reduced racial and gender gaps in labor market outcomes. The program provided free postgraduate education to engineers, scientists and managers employed at war industrial facilities between 1940 and 1945  and prohibited discrimination based on gender and race, at a time when such opportunities were highly limited. Giorcelli will answer three questions. Did ESMWT participation contribute to a reduction in disparities in labor market outcomes between white male workers and their non-white and female counterparts? To what extent were labor market outcomes of under-represented workers related to the network connections they formed by attending the ESMWT classes? To what extent did the ESMWT influence scientific human capital and long-run innovation?


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