The Younger, the Better? Relative Age Effects at University
AbstractIn this paper we estimate relative age effects in academic performance using a unique database of students at Bocconi University. The identification exploits school entry cut-off ages that generate up to 11 months difference between the youngest and the oldest students within each cohort. Our data allow to control for potential selection issues as well as for differences in cognitive ability, as measured by an attitudinal entry test. Contrary to most of the existing evidence for primary school children, we document that in university the youngest students perform better compared to their oldest peers, particularly in the most technical subjects. To rationalize this result we produce additional evidence on relative age effects in cognitive ability and in social behavior using a combination of data from Bocconi admission tests and from a survey on the social behavior of Italian first-year university students. We find that the youngest students in the cohort perform slightly better in cognitive tests and also appear to have less active social lives: they are less likely to do sports, go to discos and have love relationships. These results suggest that negative relative age effects in university performance might be generated by two mechanisms: (i) a profile of cognitive development that might be decreasing already around age 20; (ii) psychological relative age effects that lead the youngest in a cohort to develop social skills (self-esteem, leadership) at a slower pace. Younger students, thus, have less active social lives and devote more time to studying, as confirmed by additional evidence from the PISA study.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3795.
Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Population Economics, 2012, 25 (2), 697-739
Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
- I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-11-11 (All new papers)
- NEP-EDU-2008-11-11 (Education)
- NEP-LAB-2008-11-11 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-SOG-2008-11-11 (Sociology of Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004.
"The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height,"
Journal of Political Economy,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
- Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2003. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," PIER Working Paper Archive 03-036, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
- Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," NBER Working Papers 10522, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J., 2010.
"Investing in Our Young People,"
IZA Discussion Papers
5050, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Pietro Garibaldi & Francesco Giavazzi & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Rettore, 2007.
"College Cost and Time to Complete a Degree: Evidence from Tuition Discontinuities,"
NBER Working Papers
12863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Pietro Garibaldi & Francesco Giavazzi & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Rettore, 2012. "College Cost and Time to Complete a Degree: Evidence from Tuition Discontinuities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 699-711, August.
- Francesco Giavazzi & Pietro Garibaldi & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Rettore, 2009. "College cost and time to complete a degree: Evidence from tuition discontinuities," Working Papers 354, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
- Garibaldi, Pietro & Giavazzi, Francesco & Ichino, Andrea & Rettore, Enrico, 2007. "College Cost and Time to Complete a Degree: Evidence from Tuition Discontinuities," CEPR Discussion Papers 6106, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Pietro Garibaldi & Francesco Giavazzi & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Rettore, 2007. "College Cost and Time to Complete a Degree: Evidence from Tuition Discontinuities," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 38, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
- Alissa Goodman & Barbara Sianesi, 2005. "Early education and children's outcomes: low long do the impacts last?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 26(4), pages 513-548, December.
- Dhuey, Elizabeth & Lipscomb, Stephen, 2008. "What makes a leader? Relative age and high school leadership," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 173-183, April.
- Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003.
"Human Capital Policy,"
IZA Discussion Papers
821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro & Flavio Cunha, 2004.
"The Technology of Skill Formation,"
2004 Meeting Papers
681, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- 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.
- Heckman, James J. & Masterov, Dimitriy V., 2007.
"The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children,"
IZA Discussion Papers
2725, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," NBER Working Papers 13016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Fredriksson, Peter & Öckert, Björn, 2006.
"Is early learning really more productive? The effect of school starting age on school and labor market performance,"
Working Paper Series
2006:12, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
- Fredriksson, Peter & Öckert, Björn, 2005. "Is Early Learning Really More Productive? The Effect of School Starting Age on School and Labor Market Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 1659, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- De Giorgi, Giacomo & Pellizzari, Michele & Redaelli, Silvia, 2007. "Be as Careful of the Books You Read as of the Company You Keep: Evidence on Peer Effects in Educational Choices," IZA Discussion Papers 2833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Claire Crawford & Lorraine Dearden & Costas Meghir, 2007. "When You Are Born Matters: The Imapct of Date of Birth on Child Cognitive Outcomes in England," CEE Discussion Papers 0093, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
- Daniel Muller & Lionel Page, 2013. "Political Selection and the Relative Age Effect," QuBE Working Papers 009, QUT Business School.
- Herbert Dawid & Gerd Mühlheusser, 2012. "Repeated Selection with Heterogenous Individuals and Relative Age Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 3786, CESifo Group Munich.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.