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When you are born matters: the impact of date of birth on educational outcomes in England

Author

Listed:
  • Claire Crawford

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Birmingham)

  • Lorraine Dearden

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Department of Social Science, University College London)

  • Costas Meghir

    () (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Yale University)

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of month of birth on national achievement test scores in England whilst children are in school, and on subsequent further and higher education participation. Using geographical variation in school admissions policies, we are able to split this difference into an age of starting school or length of schooling effect, and an age of sitting the test effect. We find that the month in which you are born matters for test scores at ages 7, 11, 14 and 16, with younger children performing significantly worse, on average, than their older peers. Furthermore, almost all of this difference is due to the fact that younger children sit exams up to one year earlier than older cohort members. The difference in test scores at age 16 potentially affects the number of pupils who stay on beyond compulsory schooling, with predictable labour market consequences. Indeed, we find that the impact of month of birth persists into higher education (college) decisions, with age 19/20 participation declining monotonically with month of birth. The fact that being young in your school year affects outcomes after the completion of compulsory schooling points to the need for urgent policy reform, to ensure that future cohorts of children are not adversely affected by the month of birth lottery inherent in the English education system.

Suggested Citation

  • Claire Crawford & Lorraine Dearden & Costas Meghir, 2010. "When you are born matters: the impact of date of birth on educational outcomes in England," IFS Working Papers W10/06, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:10/06
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    File URL: http://www.ifs.org.uk/wps/wp1006.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Lionel Page & Dipanwita Sarkar & Juliana Silva-Goncalves, 2018. "Long-lasting effects of relative age at school," QuBE Working Papers 056, QUT Business School.
    2. Rasmus Landersø & Helena Skyt Nielsen & Marianne Simonsen, 2013. "School Starting Age and Crime," Economics Working Papers 2013-03, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    3. Tobias Meyer & Stephan L. Thomsen & Heidrun Schneider, 2019. "New Evidence on the Effects of the Shortened School Duration in the German States: An Evaluation of Post‐secondary Education Decisions," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 20(4), pages 201-253, November.
    4. Kaila, Martti, 2017. "The Effects of Relative School Starting Age on Educational Outcomes in Finland," Working Papers 84, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Meyer, Tobias & Thomsen, Stephan L., 2012. "How Important is Secondary School Duration for Post-school Education Decisions? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-509, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
    6. Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner, 2018. "Relative Age, Class Assignment, and Academic Performance: Evidence from Brazilian Primary Schools," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 120(1), pages 296-325, January.
    7. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:62:y:2018:i:c:p:205-229 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Buscha, Franz & Dickson, Matt, 2015. "The Wage Returns to Education over the Life-Cycle: Heterogeneity and the Role of Experience," IZA Discussion Papers 9596, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. repec:eso:journl:v:48:y:2017:i:3:p:281-304 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Denny, Kevin & Oppedisano, Veruska, 2013. "The surprising effect of larger class sizes: Evidence using two identification strategies," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(C), pages 57-65.
    11. Dickson, Matt & Smith, Sarah, 2011. "What determines the return to education: An extra year or a hurdle cleared?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1167-1176.
    12. Ponzo, Michela & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2014. "The long-lasting effects of school entry age: Evidence from Italian students," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 36(3), pages 578-599.
    13. Patrizia Ordine & Giuseppe Rose & Daniela Sposato, 2014. "Gift Of Time And Family Gift: The Effect Of Early School Entry On Pupils Performance," Working Papers 201408, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.
    14. repec:bla:scotjp:v:65:y:2018:i:5:p:572-582 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:bla:obuest:v:79:y:2017:i:6:p:1087-1124 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Suziedelyte, Agne & Zhu, Anna, 2015. "Does early schooling narrow outcome gaps for advantaged and disadvantaged children?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 76-88.
    17. Elliott Fan & Jin-Tan Liu & Yen-Chien Chen, 2014. "Is the 'Quarter of Birth' Endogenous? Evidence From One Million Siblings in Taiwan," NBER Working Papers 20444, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Devereux, Paul J. & Fan, Wen, 2011. "Earnings returns to the British education expansion," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1153-1166.
    19. repec:wly:econjl:v:127:y:2017:i:602:p:1096-1118 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Meyer, Tobias & Thomsen, Stephan, 2015. "New Evidence on the Effects of the Shortened School Duration in the German States - An Evaluation of Post-School Education Decisions," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112910, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    21. Duncan McVicar & Julie Moschion & Chris Ryan, 2013. "Right Peer, Right Now? Endogenous Peer Effects and Achievement in Victorian Primary Schools," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2013n22, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    22. Rasmus Landersø & Helena Skyt Nielsen & Marianne Simonsen, 2017. "School Starting Age and the Crime‐age Profile," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 127(602), pages 1096-1118, June.
    23. Peña, Pablo A., 2017. "Creating winners and losers: Date of birth, relative age in school, and outcomes in childhood and adulthood," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 152-176.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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