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The Long‐term Effects of Early Track Choice

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  • Christian Dustmann
  • Patrick A. Puhani
  • Uta Schönberg

Abstract

Despite its efficiency in tailoring education to the needs of students, a tracking system has the inherent problem of misallocating students to tracks because of incomplete information at the time of the tracking decision. This paper investigates the effects of attending a more advanced track in middle school on long-term education and labor market outcomes for Germany, a country with a very rigorous tracking system where the risk of misallocating students to tracks is, due to the early age at which tracking takes place, particularly high. Our research design exploits quasi-random shifts between tracks induced by date of birth, and identifies the long-term effects of early track attendance for a group of marginal students most at risk of misallocation. Remarkably, we find no evidence that for these students, attending a more advanced track leads to more favorable long-term outcomes. We attribute this result to the up- and downgrading of students between tracks after middle school when more information about their potential is available. Overall, our findings underscore that flexibilities built into a tracking system, which allow students to revise initial track choices at a later stage, effectively remedy even a prolonged exposure to a less advanced school environment.
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Suggested Citation

  • Christian Dustmann & Patrick A. Puhani & Uta Schönberg, 2017. "The Long‐term Effects of Early Track Choice," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(603), pages 1348-1380, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:603:p:1348-1380
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/ecoj.2017.127.issue-603
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:labeco:v:47:y:2017:i:c:p:15-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Huebener, Mathias & Marcus, Jan, 2017. "Compressing instruction time into fewer years of schooling and the impact on student performance," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 1-14.
    3. Burgess, Simon & Dickson, Matt & Macmillan, Lindsey, 2014. "Selective Schooling Systems Increase Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 8505, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Lange, Simon & von Werder, Marten, 2017. "Tracking and the intergenerational transmission of education: Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 59-78.
    5. Saurer, Judith & Felfe, Christina, 2014. "Granting Birthright Citizenship - A Door Opener for Immigrant Children's Educational Participation and Success?," Annual Conference 2014 (Hamburg): Evidence-based Economic Policy 100548, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Huebener, Mathias & Kuger, Susanne & Marcus, Jan, 2017. "Increased instruction hours and the widening gap in student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 15-34.
    7. Hart, Robert A. & Moro, Mirko, 2017. "Date of Birth and Selective Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 10949, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Schleithoff Fabian, 2014. "Ist Gesamtschule wirklich besser? Ein Beitrag zur Ordnungspolitik von Schulformen / Are Comprehensive Schools really better?," ORDO. Jahrbuch für die Ordnung von Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, De Gruyter, vol. 65(1), pages 303-328, January.
    9. Fitzenberger Bernd & Licklederer Stefanie, 2015. "Career Planning, School Grades, and Transitions: The Last Two Years in a German Lower Track Secondary School," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 235(4-5), pages 433-458, August.
    10. Friedericke von Haaren-Giebel, 2016. "Naturalisation and Investments in Children's Human Capital: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 854, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    11. Simon Lange & Marten von Werder, 2014. "The Effects of Delayed Tracking: Evidence from German States," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 163, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    12. von Haaren-Giebel, Friederike, 2016. "Naturalisation and Investments in Children's Human Capital: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-576, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    13. Zimmermann, Markus & Fitzenberger, Bernd & Osikominu, Aderonke, 2016. "Cohort Changes in Educational Pathways and Returns to Education," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145927, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General

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