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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
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  1. 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.
  2. Gans, Joshua S. & Leigh, Andrew, 2009. "Born on the first of July: An (un)natural experiment in birth timing," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 246-263, February.
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  7. Leuven, Edwin & Lindahl, Mikael & Oosterbeek, Hessel & Webbink, Dinand, 2010. "Expanding schooling opportunities for 4-year-olds," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 319-328, June.
  8. 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.
  9. 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).
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  11. 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.
  12. 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).
  13. 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).
  14. Kureishi, Wataru & Wakabayashi, Midori, 2008. "Taxing the Stork," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 61(2), pages 167-87, June.
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