Causal analysis of academic performance

D. C. Rao, N. E. Morton, R. C. Elston, S. Yee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Maximum likelihood methods are presented to test for the relations between causes and effects in linear path diagrams, without assuming that estimates of causes are free of error. Causal analysis is illustrated by published data of the Equal Educational Opportunity Survey, which show that American schools do not significantly modify socioeconomic differences in academic performance and that little of the observed racial difference in academic performance is causal. For two races differing by 15 IQ points, the differential if social class were randomized would be only about 3 points. The principle is stressed that a racial effect in a causal system may be environmental and that its etiology can be studied only by analysis of family resemblance in hybrid populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-159
Number of pages13
JournalBehavior genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1977


  • academic performance
  • causal systems
  • path analysis
  • racial difference


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