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Modeling the effects of grade retention in high school


  • Bart Cockx
  • Matteo Picchio
  • Stijn Baert


A dynamic discrete‐choice model is set up to estimate the effects of grade retention in high school, both in the short run (end‐of‐year evaluation) and in the long run (drop‐out and delay). In contrast to other evaluation approaches, this model captures essential treatment heterogeneity and controls for grade‐varying unobservable determinants. In addition, forced track downgrading is considered as an alternative remedial measure. Our results indicate that grade retention has a neutral effect on academic achievement in the short run. In the long run, grade retention, just like forced downgrading, has adverse effects on schooling outcomes and, more so, for less able pupils.

Suggested Citation

  • Bart Cockx & Matteo Picchio & Stijn Baert, 2019. "Modeling the effects of grade retention in high school," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 34(3), pages 403-424, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:japmet:v:34:y:2019:i:3:p:403-424
    DOI: 10.1002/jae.2670

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    Cited by:

    1. Filomena, Mattia & Giorgetti, Isabella & Picchio, Matteo, 2022. "Off to a Bad Start: Youth Nonemployment and Labor Market Outcomes Later in Life," IZA Discussion Papers 15366, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Baert, Stijn & Verhaest, Dieter, 2018. "Work Hard or Play Hard? Degree Class, Student Leadership and Employment Opportunities," GLO Discussion Paper Series 276, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    3. Baert, Stijn & Picchio, Matteo, 2021. "A signal of (Train)ability? Grade repetition and hiring chances," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 867-878.
    4. Baert, Stijn & Neyt, Brecht & Omey, Eddy & Verhaest, Dieter, 2017. "Student Work, Educational Achievement, and Later Employment: A Dynamic Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 11127, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Neyt, Brecht & Verhaest, Dieter & Baert, Stijn, 2020. "The impact of dual apprenticeship programmes on early labour market outcomes: A dynamic approach," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    6. Javier Valbuena & Mauro Mediavilla & Álvaro Choi & María Gil, 2021. "Effects Of Grade Retention Policies: A Literature Review Of Empirical Studies Applying Causal Inference," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(2), pages 408-451, April.
    7. Bach, Maximilian, 2019. "Strategic grade retention," ZEW Discussion Papers 19-059, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    8. Matteo Picchio & Claudia Pigini & Stefano Staffolani & Alina Verashchagina, 2021. "If not now, when? The timing of childbirth and labor market outcomes," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(6), pages 663-685, September.
    9. Cockx, B. & Declercq, Koen & Dejemeppe, Muriel, 2022. "Losing prospective entitlement to unemployment benefits. Impact on educational attainment," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    10. Neyt, Brecht & Verhaest, Dieter & Baert, Stijn, 2019. "The Impact of Internship Experience During Secondary Education on Schooling and Labour Market Outcomes," GLO Discussion Paper Series 425, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    11. Zhang, Shiying & Huang, Ao, 2022. "The long-term effects of automatic grade promotion on child development," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    12. Hugo Reis & Emilio Borghesan, 2022. "Learning Through Repetition? A Dynamic Evaluation of Grade Retention in Portugal," Working Papers w202220, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    13. Loviglio, Annalisa, 2023. "School Quality beyond Test Scores: The Role of Schools in Shaping Educational Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 16111, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. By Stijn Baert & Brecht Neyt & Eddy Omey & Dieter Verhaest, 2022. "Student work during secondary education, educational achievement, and later employment: a dynamic approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 63(3), pages 1605-1635, September.
    15. Simon ter Meulen, 2023. "Long-Term Effects of Grade Retention," CESifo Working Paper Series 10212, CESifo.
    16. De Groote, Olivier, 2019. "Dynamic Effort Choice in High School: Costs and Benefits of an Academic Track," TSE Working Papers 19-1002, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Jun 2023.
    17. Stijn Baert & Dieter Verhaest, 2021. "Work Hard or Play Hard? Degree Class, Student Leadership and Employment Opportunities," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 83(4), pages 1024-1047, August.
    18. Servaas van der Berg & Gabrielle Wills & Rebecca Selkirk & Charles Adams & Chris van Wyk, 2019. "The cost of repetition in South Africa," Working Papers 13/2019, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education


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