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Kept back to get ahead? Kindergarten retention and academic performance

  • Dong, Yingying

While most existing research concludes that grade retention generates no benefits for the retainees' academic performance, holding low-achieving children back has been a popular practice for decades. Drawing on a recently collected nationally representative dataset in the US, this paper estimates the causal effect of repeating kindergarten on the retained children's academic performance. Since we observe children being held back only when they enroll in schools that permit kindergarten retention, this paper jointly models the choice of enrolling in a school that allows kindergarten retention, the decision of repeating kindergarten, and children's academic performance in higher grades. A control function approach is developed to estimate the resulting double-hurdle treatment model, which accounts for unobserved heterogeneity in the retention effect. A nearest-neighbor matching estimator is also implemented. Holding children back in kindergarten is found to have positive but diminishing effects on their academic performance up to third grade.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 54 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (February)
Pages: 219-236

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:54:y:2010:i:2:p:219-236
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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  1. Alan Manning, 2004. "Instrumental variables for binary treatments with heterogeneous treatment effects: a simple exposition," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19983, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Fertig, Michael & Kluve, Jochen, 2005. "The Effect of Age at School Entry on Educational Attainment in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 1507, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Eide, Eric R. & Showalter, Mark H., 2001. "The effect of grade retention on educational and labor market outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(6), pages 563-576, December.
  4. Fredriksson, Peter & Öckert, Björn, 2005. "Is Early Learning Really More Productive? The Effect of School Starting Age on School and Labor Market Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 1659, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Vella, Francis & Verbeek, Marno, 1999. "Estimating and Interpreting Models with Endogenous Treatment Effects," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 17(4), pages 473-78, October.
  6. James Heckman, 1997. "Instrumental Variables: A Study of Implicit Behavioral Assumptions Used in Making Program Evaluations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 441-462.
  7. David Deming & Susan Dynarski, 2008. "The Lengthening of Childhood," NBER Working Papers 14124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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).
  9. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2004. "Remedial Education and Student Achievement: A Regression-Discontinuity Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 226-244, February.
  10. 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.
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