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Suburban legend: School cutoff dates and the timing of births

  • Dickert-Conlin, Stacy
  • Elder, Todd

Many states require children to reach age 5 by a specified date in the calendar year in order to begin kindergarten. We use birth certificate records from 1999 to 2004 to assess whether parents systematically time childbirth before these eligibility cutoff dates to capture the option value of sending their child to school at a relatively young age, thereby avoiding a year of child care costs. Testing for discontinuities in the distribution of births around cutoff dates, we find no evidence that the option value influences the timing of birth. Similarly, we find no systematic discontinuities in average mothers' characteristics or babies' health outcomes around cutoff dates. Timing in the neighborhood of eligibility cutoffs occurs only when the cutoffs coincide with weekends or holidays, which may have implications for recent research that assumes birth dates in the neighborhood of cutoffs are essentially randomly assigned.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 29 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 826-841

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:29:y:2010:i:5:p:826-841
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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  1. Kasey S. Buckles & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2013. "Season of Birth and Later Outcomes: Old Questions, New Answers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 711-724, July.
  2. Todd E. Elder & Darren H. Lubotsky, 2009. "Kindergarten Entrance Age and Children’s Achievement: Impacts of State Policies, Family Background, and Peers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
  3. Carlos Dobkin & Fernando Ferreira, 2009. "Do School Entry Laws Affect Educational Attainment and Labor Market Outcomes?," NBER Working Papers 14945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  5. Elizabeth U. Cascio, 2009. "Maternal Labor Supply and the Introduction of Kindergartens into American Public Schools," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
  6. Ashlesha Datar, 2006. "The impact of kindergarten entrance age policies on the childcare needs of families," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(1), pages 129-153.
  7. Joshua S. Gans & Andrew Leigh, 2006. "Born on the First of July: An (Un)natural Experiment in Birth Timing," CEPR Discussion Papers 529, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  8. Lee, David S. & Card, David, 2008. "Regression discontinuity inference with specification error," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 655-674, February.
  9. David Deming & Susan Dynarski, 2008. "The Lengthening of Childhood," NBER Working Papers 14124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Patrick J. McEwan & Joseph S. Shapiro, 2008. "The Benefits of Delayed Primary School Enrollment: Discontinuity Estimates Using Exact Birth Dates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  11. Datar, Ashlesha, 2006. "Does delaying kindergarten entrance give children a head start?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 43-62, February.
  12. Kureishi, Wataru & Wakabayashi, Midori, 2008. "Taxing the Stork," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(2), pages 167-87, June.
  13. 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.
  14. Jonah B. Gelbach, 2002. "Public Schooling for Young Children and Maternal Labor Supply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 307-322, March.
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