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What makes a leader? Relative age and high school leadership

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  • Dhuey, Elizabeth
  • Lipscomb, Stephen

Abstract

Economists have identified a substantial adult wage premium attached to high school leadership activity. Unresolved is the extent to which it constitutes human capital acquisition or proxies for an "innate" unobserved skill. We document a determinant of high school leadership activity that is associated purely with school structure, rather than genetics or family background - a student's relative age. State-specific school entry cut-offs induce systematic within grade variation in student maturity, which in turn generates differences in leadership activity. We find that the relatively oldest students are 4-11 percent more likely to be high school leaders.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:27:y:2008:i:2:p:173-183
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