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Kindergarten Entrance Age and Children’s Achievement: Impacts of State Policies, Family Background, and Peers

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  • Todd E. Elder
  • Darren H. Lubotsky

Abstract

We present evidence that the positive relationship between kindergarten entrance age and school achievement primarily reflects skill accumulation prior to kindergarten, rather than a heightened ability to learn in school among older children. The association between achievement test scores and entrance age appears during the first months of kindergarten, declines sharply in subsequent years, and is especially pronounced among children from upper-income families, a group likely to have accumulated the most skills prior to school entry. Finally, having older classmates boosts a child’s test scores but increases the probability of grade repetition and diagnoses of learning disabilities such as ADHD.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:44:y:2009:i3:p641-683
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Puhani, Patrick A. & Weber, Andrea M., 2005. "Does the Early Bird Catch the Worm? Instrumental Variable Estimates of Educational Effects of Age of School Entry in Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 1827, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Dobkin, Carlos & Ferreira, Fernando, 2010. "Do school entry laws affect educational attainment and labor market outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 40-54, February.
    3. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
    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.
    5. Edward P. Lazear, 2001. "Educational Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 777-803.
    6. Datar, Ashlesha, 2006. "Does delaying kindergarten entrance give children a head start?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 43-62, February.
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