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Does early schooling narrow outcome gaps for advantaged and disadvantaged children?

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  • Suziedelyte, Agne
  • Zhu, Anna

Abstract

This paper explores how starting school at a younger age affects the developmental score gaps between relatively advantaged and disadvantaged children. While previous findings suggest that delaying school entry may improve school readiness, less is known about whether it has differential effects for advantaged and disadvantaged children. For disadvantaged children, starting school early may be a better alternative to staying at home for longer as school provides a more stable and educational environment than the family home, overcompensating for the penalties of starting school early. This may be less applicable to relatively advantaged children who generally have greater access to resources in the home and who are more likely to utilise formal pre-school services. We use the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children to investigate if there is support for this hypothesis. The endogeneity of school starting age is addressed using the regression discontinuity design. We find that an early school start generally improves children’s cognitive skills, which is even more pronounced for disadvantaged children. In contrast, an early school start tends to negatively affect children’s non-cognitive skills with both advantaged and disadvantaged children affected in similar ways. Thus, our findings suggest that an earlier school entry may narrow the gaps in cognitive skills, whereas the gaps in non-cognitive skills are not affected by the school starting age.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:45:y:2015:i:c:p:76-88
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2015.02.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

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    2. Pauline Givord, 2021. "How age at school entry affects future educational and socioemotional outcomes: Evidence from PISA," Working Papers hal-03386582, HAL.
    3. Pauline GIVORD, 2020. "How age at entry at school affects future educational and socio-emotional outcomes: evidence from PISA," Working Papers 2020-27, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
    4. Chris Ryan & Anna Zhu, 2015. "Sibling Health, Schooling and Longer-Term Developmental Outcomes," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2015n21, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    5. Pauline Givord, 2021. "How age at school entry affects future educational and socioemotional outcomes: Evidence from PISA," Sciences Po publications 120, Sciences Po.
    6. María Jesús Mancebón Torrubia & Domingo P. Ximénez-de-Embún & Adriano Villar-Aldonza, 2018. "Evaluación del efecto de la escolarización temprana sobre las habilidades cognitivas y no cognitivas de los niños de cinco/seis años," Hacienda Pública Española / Review of Public Economics, IEF, vol. 226(3), pages 123-153, September.
    7. Daniel Rakotomalala, 2020. "The effects of age on educational performances at the end of primary school : cross-sectional and regression discontinuity approach applications from Reunion Island," TEPP Working Paper 2020-06, TEPP.
    8. Youwei Wang & Yuxin Chen & Yi Qian, 2018. "The Causal Link between Relative Age Effect and Entrepreneurship: Evidence from 17 Million Users across 49 Years on Taobao," NBER Working Papers 25318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Educational economics; Human capital; School starting age;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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