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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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  • Dickert-Conlin, Stacy & Elder, Todd, 2010. "Suburban legend: School cutoff dates and the timing of births," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 826-841, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:29:y:2010:i:5:p:826-841

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Cascio, Elizabeth U., 2017. "Does Universal Preschool Hit the Target? Program Access and Preschool Impacts," IZA Discussion Papers 10596, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Suziedelyte, Agne & Zhu, Anna, 2015. "Does early schooling narrow outcome gaps for advantaged and disadvantaged children?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 76-88.
    3. Veronica Grembi & Tommaso Nannicini & Ugo Troiano, 2011. "Policy Responses to Fiscal Restraints: A Difference-in-Discontinuities Design," Working Papers 397, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    4. Beuchert, Louise Voldby & Humlum, Maria Knoth & Vejlin, Rune, 2016. "The length of maternity leave and family health," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 55-71.
    5. Tamm, Marcus, 2013. "The Impact of a Large Parental Leave Benefit Reform on the Timing of Birth around the Day of Implementation," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 585-601.
    6. Claire Crawford & Lorraine Dearden & Ellen Greaves, 2013. "The drivers of month of birth differences in children's cognitive and non-cognitive skills: a regression discontinuity analysis," DoQSS Working Papers 13-06, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    7. Clarke, Damian & Oreffice, Sonia & Quintana-Domeque, Climent, 2016. "The Demand for Season of Birth," IZA Discussion Papers 10072, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Mühlenweg, Andrea & Blomeyer, Dorothea & Stichnoth, Holger & Laucht, Manfred, 2012. "Effects of age at school entry (ASE) on the development of non-cognitive skills: Evidence from psychometric data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 68-76.
    9. Alan I. Barreca & Jason M. Lindo & Glen R. Waddell, 2016. "Heaping-Induced Bias In Regression-Discontinuity Designs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(1), pages 268-293, January.
    10. Sara LaLumia & James M. Sallee & Nicholas Turner, 2015. "New Evidence on Taxes and the Timing of Birth," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 258-293, May.
    11. Dragone, Davide & Prarolo, Giovanni & Vanin, Paolo & Zanella, Giulio, 2017. "Crime and the Legalization of Recreational Marijuana," IZA Discussion Papers 10522, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    12. Dionissi Aliprantis, 2012. "When should children start school?," Working Paper 1126, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    13. Janice Compton & Lindsay M. Tedds, 2016. "Effects of the 2001 Extension of Paid Parental Leave Provisions on Birth Seasonality in Canada," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 42(1), pages 65-82, March.
    14. Wael S. Moussa, 2017. "Closer to the Finish Line? Compulsory Attendance, Grade Attainment, and High School Graduation," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 12(1), pages 28-53, Winter.
    15. Shirlee Lichtman, 2013. "The Value Of Postponing Pregnancy: California’S Paid Family Leave And The Timing Of Pregnancies," Working Papers 1310, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Economics.
    16. Marcus Tamm, 2013. "The Impact of a Large Parental Leave Benefit Reform on the Timing of Birth around the Day of Implementation-super-," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 75(4), pages 585-601, August.
    17. Gabriela Aparicio & Paul E. Carrillo & M. Shahe Emran, 2013. "Are Sunday Babies Doomed for Life? Measuring the Sunday-Born Achievement Gap in Ecuador," Working Papers 2013-2, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
    18. Benedikt Siegler, 2013. "What triggers school improvement? Evidence from a court induced change in Florida's A+ accountability plan," Working Papers 135, Bavarian Graduate Program in Economics (BGPE).
    19. McAdams, John M., 2016. "The effect of school starting age policy on crime: Evidence from U.S. microdata," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 227-241.
    20. Fletcher, Jason & Kim, Taehoon, 2016. "The effects of changes in kindergarten entry age policies on educational achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 45-62.


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