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The drivers of month of birth differences in children's cognitive and non-cognitive skills: a regression discontinuity analysis

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  • Claire Crawford

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Lorraine Dearden

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Bedford Group, Institute of Education, University of London)

  • Ellen Greaves

    ()
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

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    Abstract

    This paper uses data from a rich UK birth cohort to estimate the differences in cognitive and non-cognitive skills between children born at the start and end of the academic year. It builds on the previous literature on this topic in England by using a more robust regression discontinuity design and is also able to provide new insight into the drivers of the differences in outcomes between children born in different months that we observe. Specifically, we compare differences in tests that are affected by all three of the potential drivers (age at test, age of starting school and relative age) with differences in tests sat at the same age (which are therefore not affected by the age at test effect) as a way of separately identifying the age at test effect. We find that age at test is the most important factor driving the difference between the oldest and youngest children in an academic cohort; highlighting that children born at the end of the academic year are at a disadvantage primarily because they are almost a year younger than those born at the start of the academic year when they take national achievement tests. An appropriate policy response in this case is to appropriately age-adjust these tests. However, we also find evidence that a child’s view of their own scholastic competence differs significantly between those born at the start and end of the academic year, even when eliminating the age at test effect. This means that other policy responses may be required to correct for differences in outcomes amongst children born in different months, but not necessarily so: it may be that children’s view of their scholastic competence would change in response to the introduction of appropriately age-adjusted tests, for example as a result of positive reinforcement.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute for Fiscal Studies in its series IFS Working Papers with number W13/08.

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    Date of creation: May 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:13/08

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    Related research

    Keywords: Month of birth; regression discontinuity design;

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    References

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    1. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs In Economics," Working Papers 1118, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Richard Blundell & Monica Costa Dias, 2002. "Alternative approaches to evaluation in empirical microeconomics," CeMMAP working papers CWP10/02, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
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    20. Groves, Melissa Osborne, 2005. "How important is your personality? Labor market returns to personality for women in the US and UK," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(6), pages 827-841, December.
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    22. Merve Cebi, 2007. "Locus of Control and Human Capital Investment Revisited," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(4).
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