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The Long-Term Effects of Early Track Choice

Author

Listed:
  • Dustmann, Christian

    (University College London)

  • Puhani, Patrick A.

    (Leibniz University of Hannover)

  • Schönberg, Uta

    (University College London)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Dustmann, Christian & Puhani, Patrick A. & Schönberg, Uta, 2014. "The Long-Term Effects of Early Track Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 7897, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7897
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    regression discontinuity design; peer effects; school quality; tracking;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

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

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