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The Optimal Timing of School Tracking


  • Brunello, Giorgio

    () (University of Padova)

  • Giannini, Massimo

    () (University of Molise)

  • Ariga, Kenn

    () (Kyoto University)


We develop a simple model which determines the optimal timing of school tracking as the outcome of the trade off between the advantages of specialization, which call for early tracking, and the costs of early selection, which lead to later tracking. We calibrate the model for Germany and study how relative demand shifts toward more general skills and changes in the (exogenous) rate of technical progress affect the optimal tracking time as well as the efficient allocation of students to general and vocational tracks.

Suggested Citation

  • Brunello, Giorgio & Giannini, Massimo & Ariga, Kenn, 2004. "The Optimal Timing of School Tracking," IZA Discussion Papers 995, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp995

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jacob M. Markman & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 2003. "Does peer ability affect student achievement?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 527-544.
    2. Epple, Dennis & Newlon, Elizabeth & Romano, Richard, 2002. "Ability tracking, school competition, and the distribution of educational benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-48, January.
    3. Nickell, Stephen & Layard, Richard, 1999. "Labor market institutions and economic performance," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 46, pages 3029-3084 Elsevier.
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    5. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2000. "Ability-Biased Technological Transition, Wage Inequality, and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(2), pages 469-497.
    6. Dirk Krueger & Krishna B. Kumar, 2004. "Skill-Specific rather than General Education: A Reason for US--Europe Growth Differences?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 167-207, June.
    7. Cecilia Garcia-Penalosa & Eve Caroli & Philippe Aghion, 1999. "Inequality and Economic Growth: The Perspective of the New Growth Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1615-1660, December.
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    9. Gust, Christopher & Marquez, Jaime, 2004. "International comparisons of productivity growth: the role of information technology and regulatory practices," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 33-58, February.
    10. Ron W Zimmer & Eugenia F Toma, 2000. "Peer effects in private and public schools across countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 75-92.
    11. Laura M. Argys & Daniel I. Rees & Dominic J. Brewer, 1996. "Detracking America's schools: Equity at zero cost?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(4), pages 623-645.
    12. Daron Acemoglu, 2002. "Technical Change, Inequality, and the Labor Market," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(1), pages 7-72, March.
    13. repec:dau:papers:123456789/10091 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea M. Mühlenweg, 2008. "Educational Effects of Alternative Secondary School Tracking Regimes in Germany," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 128(3), pages 351-379.
    2. Nicole Schneeweis & Martina Zweimüller, 2014. "Early Tracking and the Misfortune of Being Young," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 116(2), pages 394-428, April.
    3. Nicole Schneeweis & Rudolf Winter-Ebmer, 2007. "Peer effects in Austrian schools," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 387-409, May.
    4. Carsten Ochsen, 2011. "Recommendation, class repeating, and children's ability: German school tracking experiences," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(27), pages 4127-4133.
    5. Giorgio Brunello, 2004. "Stratified or Comprehensive? Some Economic Considerations on the design of secondary education," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 2(4), pages 07-10, 06.
    6. Sari Pekkala Kerr & Tuomas Pekkarinen & Roope Uusitalo, 2013. "School Tracking and Development of Cognitive Skills," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(3), pages 577-602.
    7. Volker Meier & Gabriela Schütz, 2007. "The Economics of Tracking and Non-Tracking," ifo Working Paper Series 50, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    8. Takii, Katsuya & Tanaka, Ryuichi, 2009. "Does the diversity of human capital increase GDP? A comparison of education systems," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 998-1007, August.
    9. Kenn Ariga & Giorgio Brunello & Roki Iwahashi & Lorenzo Rocco, 2008. "The Stairways to Heaven: A Model of Career Choice in Sports and Games, with an Application to Chess," KIER Working Papers 646, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    10. Bassanini, Andrea & Booth, Alison L. & Brunello, Giorgio & De Paola, Maria & Leuven, Edwin, 2005. "Workplace Training in Europe," IZA Discussion Papers 1640, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo, 2011. "On the optimal allocation of students when peer effects are at work: tracking vs. mixing," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 31-52, March.
    12. Mühlenweg, Andrea Maria, 2007. "Educational Effects of Early or Later Secondary School Tracking in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 07-079, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    13. Kenn Ariga & Giorgio Brunello & Roki Iwahashi & Lorenzo Rocco, 2006. "On the Efficiency Costs of Detracking Secondary Schools," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 35, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    14. Giorgio Brunello, 2006. "Workplace Training and Labour Market Institutions in Europe," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 4(4), pages 33-41, 02.
    15. Bauer, Philipp & Riphahn, Regina T., 2006. "Timing of school tracking as a determinant of intergenerational transmission of education," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 90-97, April.

    More about this item


    Germany; secondary schools; tracking;

    JEL classification:

    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects

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