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School Starting Age and Crime


  • Landerso, Rasmus

    () (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit)

  • Nielsen, Helena Skyt

    () (Aarhus University)

  • Simonsen, Marianne

    () (Aarhus University)


This paper investigates the effects of school starting age on crime while relying on variation in school starting age induced by administrative rules; we exploit that Danish children typically start first grade in the calendar year they turn seven, which gives rise to a discontinuity in children's school starting age. Analyses are carried out using register-based Danish data. We find that higher age at school start lowers the propensity to commit crime, but that this reduction is caused by incapacitation while human capital accumulation is unaffected. Importantly, we also find that the individuals who benefit most from being old-for-grade are those with high latent abilities whereas those with low latent ability seem to be unaffected by being old-for-grade in school.

Suggested Citation

  • Landerso, Rasmus & Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Simonsen, Marianne, 2013. "School Starting Age and Crime," IZA Discussion Papers 7228, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7228

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2013. "Under Pressure? The Effect of Peers on Outcomes of Young Adults," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 119-153.
    2. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Too Young to Leave the Nest? The Effects of School Starting Age," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 455-467, May.
    3. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
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    5. Alejandro Gaviria & Steven Raphael, 2001. "School-Based Peer Effects And Juvenile Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 257-268, May.
    6. James J. Heckman & Sergio Urzua & Edward Vytlacil, 2006. "Understanding Instrumental Variables in Models with Essential Heterogeneity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(3), pages 389-432, August.
    7. Elder, Todd E., 2010. "The importance of relative standards in ADHD diagnoses: Evidence based on exact birth dates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 641-656, September.
    8. 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).
    9. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
    10. Lance Lochner, 2010. "Non-Production Benefits of Education: Crime, Health and Good Citizenship," University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers 20107, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
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    12. Dalsgaard, Søren & Humlum, Maria Knoth & Nielsen, Helena Skyt & Simonsen, Marianne, 2012. "Relative standards in ADHD diagnoses: The role of specialist behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 663-665.
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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas S. Dee & Hans Henrik Sievertsen, 2015. "The Gift of Time? School Starting Age and Mental Health," NBER Working Papers 21610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Aoki, Yu, 2014. "More Schooling, Less Youth Crime? Learning from an Earthquake in Japan," IZA Discussion Papers 8619, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. McAdams, John M., 2016. "The effect of school starting age policy on crime: Evidence from U.S. microdata," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 227-241.

    More about this item


    criminal charges; school start; old-for-grade; violence; property crime;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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