The effect of the oil and gas boom on schooling decisions in the U.S

Na Zuo, Jack Schieffer, Steven Buck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The development of cost-effective technologies, along with high crude oil and natural gas prices, accelerated shale oil and gas extraction in the United States in the early 2000s. We explore the schooling response to this boom, taking advantage of timing and spatial variation in well-drilling activities. We show that intensive drilling activities decreased grade 11 and 12 enrollment over the 14-year study period—41,760 fewer students enrolled per year across the 15 states considered in this analysis (95% C.I.: 12,685–71,567). We investigate heterogeneous effects and show that the effect was larger in states with a younger compulsory schooling age (16 years of age instead of 17 or 18), in states with a lower effective tax rate on oil and gas production, and in non-metro counties with traditional mining or persistent poverty.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalResource and Energy Economics
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are grateful for comments from Christopher Walters, David Freshwater, Didier Alia, Eduardo Montoya, Jenny Minier, Jerrod Penn, Mahdi Asgari, Mehdi Nemati, Michael Anderson, Sofia Berto Villas-Boas, Willie Bedell, Yoko Kusunose, and participants at the 2015 American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) & Western Agricultural Economics Association (WAEA) Joint Annual Meeting and the 2017 American Environmental and Resource Economists (AERE) Summer Meeting. The collection of well record data used in this study was partly supported by the Student Sustainability Council at the University of Kentucky.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Energy boom
  • High school enrollment
  • Schooling decisions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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