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The Long-Term Effects of Early Track Choice

  • Dustmann, Christian

    ()

    (University College London)

  • Puhani, Patrick A.

    ()

    (Leibniz University of Hannover)

  • Schönberg, Uta

    ()

    (University College London)

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7897.

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Length: 63 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming in: Economic Journal
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7897
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  1. C. Kirabo Jackson, 2010. "Do Students Benefit from Attending Better Schools? Evidence from Rule-based Student Assignments in Trinidad and Tobago," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(549), pages 1399-1429, December.
  2. Clark, Damon, 2007. "Selective Schools and Academic Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 3182, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Tuomas Pekkarinen & Roope Uusitalo & Sari Kerr, 2009. "School tracking and development of cognitive skills," Working Papers 2, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  4. Nina Guyon & Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2010. "The Effect of Tracking Students by Ability into Different Schools: A Natural Experiment," Working Papers 2010.152, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  5. Malamud, Ofer & Pop-Eleches, Cristian, 2011. "School tracking and access to higher education among disadvantaged groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1538-1549.
  6. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2011. "The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood," NBER Working Papers 17699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2005. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-in-Differences Evidence across Countries," NBER Working Papers 11124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Patrick Puhani & Andrea Weber, 2007. "Does the early bird catch the worm?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 359-386, May.
  9. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2000. "The Impact of School Choice on Student Outcomes: An Analysis of the Chicago Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 7888, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Chetty, Raj & Friedman, John Norton & Hilger, Nathanial & Saez, Emmanuel & Schanzenbach, Dianne Whitmore & Yagan, Danny, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," Scholarly Articles 9639983, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  11. 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.
  12. Dustmann, Christian & Ludsteck, Johannes & Schönberg, Uta, 2007. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 2685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Abdulkadiroğlu, Atila & Angrist, Joshua & Pathak, Parag A., 2012. "The Elite Illusion: Achievement Effects at Boston and New York Exam Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 6790, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. 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.
  15. Kasey S. Buckles & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2013. "Season of Birth and Later Outcomes: Old Questions, New Answers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 711-724, July.
  16. Todd E. Elder & Darren H. Lubotsky, 2009. "Kindergarten Entrance Age and Children’s Achievement: Impacts of State Policies, Family Background, and Peers," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(3).
  17. David J. Deming, 2011. "Better Schools, Less Crime?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 2063-2115.
  18. Cristian Pop-Eleches & Miguel Urquiola, 2013. "Going to a Better School: Effects and Behavioral Responses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1289-1324, June.
  19. Caroline Hall, 2012. "The Effects of Reducing Tracking in Upper Secondary School: Evidence from a Large-Scale Pilot Scheme," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 237-269.
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