IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/iza/izadps/dp3795.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Younger, the Better? Relative Age Effects at University

Author

Listed:
  • Billari, Francesco C.

    () (Bocconi University)

  • Pellizzari, Michele

    () (University of Geneva)

Abstract

In this paper we estimate relative age effects in academic performance using a unique database of students at Bocconi University. The identification exploits school entry cut-off ages that generate up to 11 months difference between the youngest and the oldest students within each cohort. Our data allow to control for potential selection issues as well as for differences in cognitive ability, as measured by an attitudinal entry test. Contrary to most of the existing evidence for primary school children, we document that in university the youngest students perform better compared to their oldest peers, particularly in the most technical subjects. To rationalize this result we produce additional evidence on relative age effects in cognitive ability and in social behavior using a combination of data from Bocconi admission tests and from a survey on the social behavior of Italian first-year university students. We find that the youngest students in the cohort perform slightly better in cognitive tests and also appear to have less active social lives: they are less likely to do sports, go to discos and have love relationships. These results suggest that negative relative age effects in university performance might be generated by two mechanisms: (i) a profile of cognitive development that might be decreasing already around age 20; (ii) psychological relative age effects that lead the youngest in a cohort to develop social skills (self-esteem, leadership) at a slower pace. Younger students, thus, have less active social lives and devote more time to studying, as confirmed by additional evidence from the PISA study.

Suggested Citation

  • Billari, Francesco C. & Pellizzari, Michele, 2008. "The Younger, the Better? Relative Age Effects at University," IZA Discussion Papers 3795, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3795
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp3795.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James Heckman & Flavio Cunha, 2007. "The Technology of Skill Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 31-47, May.
    2. Pietro Garibaldi & Francesco Giavazzi & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Rettore, 2012. "College Cost and Time to Complete a Degree: Evidence from Tuition Discontinuities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 699-711, August.
    3. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. De Giorgi, Giacomo & Pellizzari, Michele & Redaelli, Silvia, 2007. "Be as Careful of the Books You Read as of the Company You Keep: Evidence on Peer Effects in Educational Choices," IZA Discussion Papers 2833, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Nicola Persico & Andrew Postlewaite & Dan Silverman, 2004. "The Effect of Adolescent Experience on Labor Market Outcomes: The Case of Height," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 1019-1053, October.
    6. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," Review of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 446-493.
    7. Alissa Goodman & Barbara Sianesi, 2005. "Early education and children's outcomes: low long do the impacts last?," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 26(4), pages 513-548, December.
    8. Flavio Cunha & James J. HECKMAN, 2009. "Investing in our Young People," Rivista Internazionale di Scienze Sociali, Vita e Pensiero, Pubblicazioni dell'Universita' Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, vol. 117(3), pages 387-418.
    9. 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).
    10. Dhuey, Elizabeth & Lipscomb, Stephen, 2008. "What makes a leader? Relative age and high school leadership," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 173-183, April.
    11. Kelly Bedard & Elizabeth Dhuey, 2006. "The Persistence of Early Childhood Maturity: International Evidence of Long-Run Age Effects," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1437-1472.
    12. Claire Crawford & Lorraine Dearden & Costas Meghir, 2007. "When You Are Born Matters: The Imapct of Date of Birth on Child Cognitive Outcomes in England," CEE Discussion Papers 0093, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Barbara Grave, 2011. "The effect of student time allocation on academic achievement," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(3), pages 291-310.
    2. Barbara S. Grave, 2010. "The Effect of Student Time Allocation on Academic Achievement," Ruhr Economic Papers 0235, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    3. Herbert Dawid & Gerd Muehlheusser, 2012. "Repeated Selection with Heterogenous Individuals and Relative Age Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 3786, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. repec:zbw:rwirep:0235 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Daniel Muller & Lionel Page, 2013. "Political Selection and the Relative Age Effect," QuBE Working Papers 009, QUT Business School.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    relative age; education;

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3795. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak). General contact details of provider: http://www.iza.org .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.