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Is Early Learning Really More Productive? The Effect of School Starting Age on School and Labor Market Performance

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  • Fredriksson, Peter

    ()
    (Stockholm University)

  • Öckert, Björn

    ()
    (IFAU)

Abstract

In Sweden, children typically start compulsory school the year they turn seven. Hence, individuals born just before or just after the new year, have about the same date of birth but start school at different ages. We exploit this source of exogenous variation, to identify the effects of age at school entry on test scores, grades, educational attainment and labor market performance. Using a rich data set for the entire Swedish population born 1935-84, we find that children who start school at an older age do better in school and go on to have more education than their younger peers. Children from families with weaker educational tradition have more to win from starting school later. The long-run earnings effects are positive but small. However, since starting school later entails the opportunity cost of entering the labor market later, the net earnings effect over the entire life-cycle is negative. Exploiting within-school variation in peer age composition, we find that the school starting age effect primarily is due to absolute maturity rather than to the relative age in the class.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 1659.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming as: 'Life-cycle Effects of Age at School Start' in: Economic Journal, 2014
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1659

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Keywords: regression-discontinuity design; school starting age; child education;

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  1. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. Eide, Eric R. & Showalter, Mark H., 2001. "The effect of grade retention on educational and labor market outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 563-576, December.
  3. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," NBER Working Papers 3572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Janet Currie, 2001. "Early Childhood Education Programs," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(2), pages 213-238, Spring.
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  7. Fertig, Michael & Kluve, Jochen, 2005. "The Effect of Age at School Entry on Educational Attainment in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 1507, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Costas Meghir & Mårten Palme, 2004. "Educational reform, ability and family background," IFS Working Papers W04/10, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Cascio, Elizabeth U., 2004. "Schooling and the AFQT: Evidence from School Entry Laws," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt8zm571cw, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  10. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Plug, Erik J. S., 2001. "Season of birth, schooling and earnings," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 641-660, October.
  12. Kelly Bedard & Elizabeth Dhuey, 2006. "The Persistence of Early Childhood Maturity: International Evidence of Long-Run Age Effects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1437-1472, November.
  13. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "The Effect of Age at School Entry on Educational Attainment: An Application of Instrumental Variables with Moments from Two Samples," Working Papers 654, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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