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The relative-age effect and career success: Evidence from corporate CEOs


  • Du, Qianqian
  • Gao, Huasheng
  • Levi, Maurice D.


This paper finds that the number of CEOs born in June and July is disproportionately small relative to the number of CEOs born in other months. Our evidence is consistent with the “relative-age effect” due to school admissions grouping together children with age differences up to one year, with children born in June and July disadvantaged throughout life by being younger than their classmates born in other months. Our results suggest that the relative-age effect has a long-lasting influence on career success.

Suggested Citation

  • Du, Qianqian & Gao, Huasheng & Levi, Maurice D., 2012. "The relative-age effect and career success: Evidence from corporate CEOs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 660-662.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:117:y:2012:i:3:p:660-662 DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2012.08.017

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kuhn, Peter J. & Weinberger, Catherine, 2002. "Leadership Skills and Wages," IZA Discussion Papers 482, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. 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.
    3. Kelly Bedard & Elizabeth Dhuey, 2006. "The Persistence of Early Childhood Maturity: International Evidence of Long-Run Age Effects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1437-1472.
    4. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Keueger, 1991. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 979-1014.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luca Fumarco & Giambattista Rossi, 2015. "Relative Age Effect on Labor Market Outcomes for High Skilled Workers – Evidence from Soccer," Management Working Papers 9, Birkbeck Department of Management, revised Mar 2015.
    2. Claire Crawford & Lorraine Dearden & Ellen Greaves, 2013. "The impact of age within academic year on adult outcomes," DoQSS Working Papers 13-05, Department of Quantitative Social Science - UCL Institute of Education, University College London.
    3. Dawid, Herbert & Muehlheusser, Gerd, 2015. "Repeated selection with heterogeneous individuals and relative age effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 387-406.
    4. Lionel Page & Dipanwita Sarkar & Juliana S. Goncalves, 2015. "The older the bolder? Does relative age among peers influence children's confidence and risk attitudes?," QuBE Working Papers 029, QUT Business School.
    5. repec:eee:joepsy:v:63:y:2017:i:c:p:43-81 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Claire Crawford & Lorraine Dearden & Ellen Greaves, 2014. "The drivers of month-of-birth differences in children's cognitive and non-cognitive skills," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 177(4), pages 829-860, October.
    7. Elizabeth Dhuey & David Figlio & Krzysztof Karbownik & Jeffrey Roth, 2017. "School Starting Age and Cognitive Development," NBER Working Papers 23660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    Relative-age; CEO birth-date; Career success;

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions


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