Studies have found lower levels of educational achievement for students in rural areas focusing mostly on cross-sectional data. Using the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we follow the same youth cohort to examine whether there are metro-nonmetro gaps in high cognitive achievement, high school graduation, college readiness, degree attainment, and earnings. We find that gaps emerge early in life and they remain constant through high school.In addition,results suggest that rural students graduate from high school at the same rate as their urban counterparts, but they fall behind when it comes to college graduation rates. Growing up in a rural area does not seem to impose a wage penalty beyond the lower earnings operating through cognitive test performance and college degree attainment.

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