An Economic Analysis of the Treaty Right to Education
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This thesis is an economic analysis of two of the ways in which the Canadian government has fallen short of providing a treaty right to education. Chapter 2 lays the foundation of the thesis by introducing the reader to contemporary differences in educational attainment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. I focus on the results of a math test administered to a national sample of off-reserve students. After establishing that a large gap in test scores exists on average, the chapter shows that accounting for both the level of and returns to observable characteristics eliminates this gap for low performing students, but a sizeable gap remains in the right tail of the test-score distributions. The next chapter analyzes one of the largest national student aid programs in Canadian history. The Post-Secondary Educational Assistance Program was implemented in 1977 to assist Status Indian and Inuit students with financing their post-secondary programs; however, financial constraints led to cutbacks in this program in the late 1980s. I show that these cutbacks not only led to a reduction in community college completion, but also resulted in a large decline in high school graduation rates. This finding highlights an important indirect effect associated with varying the costs of higher education. The final chapter examines the intergenerational effects of Canada's residential school system. From the late nineteenth century until the end of the twentieth century, the Canadian government, in collaboration with Christian churches, removed Indigenous children from their families and placed them in live-in boarding schools. While economists have shown the schools led to an increase in the educational attainment of those who attended, residential school attendance is negatively correlated with the educational attainment of subsequent generations. This is at odds with the literature on the intergenerational transmission of human capital. The fourth and final chapter explores this puzzle.