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The Long-Run Effects of Attending an Elite School: Evidence from the United Kingdom


  • Damon Clark
  • Emilia Del Bono


This paper estimates the impact of elite school attendance on long-run outcomes including completed education, income, and fertility. Our data consist of individuals born in the 1950s and educated in a UK district that assigned students to either elite or non-elite secondary schools. Using instrumental variables methods that exploit the school assignment formula, we find that elite school attendance had large impacts on completed education. Surprisingly, there are no significant effects on most labor market outcomes except for an increase in female income. By contrast, we document a large and significant negative impact on female fertility. (JEL I21, I24, I26, J13, J16, J24, J31)

Suggested Citation

  • Damon Clark & Emilia Del Bono, 2016. "The Long-Run Effects of Attending an Elite School: Evidence from the United Kingdom," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 150-176, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:8:y:2016:i:1:p:150-76
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.20130505

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    Cited by:

    1. Larissa Zierow, 2017. "Ökonomische Perspektiven auf die Einflüsse der öffentlichen Kinderbetreuung und des Schulwesens auf Bildungserträge in der Kindheit und im Erwachsenenalter," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 76, November.
    2. Estrada, Ricardo & Gignoux, Jérémie, 2017. "Benefits to elite schools and the expected returns to education: Evidence from Mexico City," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 168-194.
    3. Reilee L. Berger & John V. Winters, 2016. "Does Private Schooling Increase Adult Earnings? Cohort-Level Evidence for U.S. States," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 46(3), pages 281-294, Winter.
    4. Favaro, Donata & Sciulli, Dario & Bartolucci, Francesco, 2020. "Primary-school class composition and the development of social capital," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    5. Gerhardts, Ilka & Sunde, Uwe & Zierow, Larissa, 2016. "Denominational Schools and Returns to Education - Gender Socialization in Multigrade Classrooms?," VfS Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145762, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Sloczynski, Tymon, 2018. "A General Weighted Average Representation of the Ordinary and Two-Stage Least Squares Estimands," IZA Discussion Papers 11866, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    7. Luc Behaghel & Clément de Chaisemartin & Marc Gurgand, 2017. "Ready for Boarding? The Effects of a Boarding School for Disadvantaged Students," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 140-164, January.
    8. Suqin Ge & Elliott Isaac & Amalia Miller, 2018. "Elite Schools and Opting In: Effects of College Selectivity on Career and Family Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 25315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Bach, Maximilian & Fischer, Mira, 2020. "Understanding the response to high-stakes incentives in primary education," ZEW Discussion Papers 20-066, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    10. Anderson, Kathryn & Gong, Xue & Hong, Kai & Zhang, Xi, 2016. "Do selective high schools improve student achievement? Effects of exam schools in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 121-134.
    11. Schnepel, Kevin T. & Schurer, Stefanie, 2017. "Early Life Health Interventions and Childhood Development: Evidence from Special Care Nursery Assignment in Australia’s Northern Territory," VfS Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168240, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. Dustmann, Christian & Ku, Hyejin & Kwak, Do Won, 2018. "Why Are Single-Sex Schools Successful?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 79-99.
    13. Schiltz, Fritz & Mazrekaj, Deni & Horn, Daniel & De Witte, Kristof, 2019. "Does it matter when your smartest peers leave your class? Evidence from Hungary," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 79-91.
    14. Gorman, Emma & Walker, Ian, 2020. "Heterogeneous Effects of Missing out on a Place at a Preferred Secondary School in England," IZA Discussion Papers 13167, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Miroslava Federičová & Daniel Münich, 2017. "The impact of high-stakes school admission exams on study achievements: quasi-experimental evidence from Slovakia," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(4), pages 1069-1092, October.
    16. Sorvachev, Ilia & Yakovlev, Evgeny, 2020. "Short- and Long-Run Effects of a Sizable Child Subsidy: Evidence from Russia," IZA Discussion Papers 13019, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Wu, Jia & Wei, Xiangdong & Zhang, Hongliang & Zhou, Xiang, 2019. "Elite schools, magnet classes, and academic performances: Regression-discontinuity evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 143-167.
    18. Chicoine,Luke, 2020. "Free Primary Education, Fertility, and Women's Access to the Labor Market : Evidence from Ethiopia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9105, The World Bank.
    19. Pastore, C.; & Jones, A.M.;, 2019. "Human capital consequences of missing out on a grammar school education," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 19/08, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials


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