IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Age Effects in Primary Education: A Double Disadvantage for Second-Generation Immigrants



The integration of second-generation immigrant children is a major challenge for the receiving countries, especially where immigration is a recent phenomenon. Apart from family, integration begins at school. We study whether the immigrant background interacts with age effects (namely, absolute age effect and relative age effect), generating additional barriers (double disadvantage) for second-generation children in the Italian primary school. We can identify these effects because we exploit the heterogeneity in children's birthdates and because the test is given at two different points in time. We find evidence of a double disadvantage that, relative to the average native, reduces scores in Italian by 17% and in Math by 20%. In a policy perspective, we show that controlling for age effects in class composition criteria promotes integration because it delivers extra benefits to second-generation immigrant children. Besides, we point out the possibility of turning the large impact of the relative age on second-generation children to their advantage, in order to reduce the sizable penalization associated with the immigrant background.

Suggested Citation

  • Antonio Abatemarco & Mariagrazia Cavallo & Immacolata Marino & Giuseppe Russo, 2020. "Age Effects in Primary Education: A Double Disadvantage for Second-Generation Immigrants," CSEF Working Papers 567, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy, revised 30 Jul 2021.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:567
    Note: A previous version has been circulated under the title " Age Effects in Primary Education: A Double Disadvantage for Second Generations"

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Rashmi Barua & Kevin Lang, 2016. "School Entry, Educational Attainment, and Quarter of Birth: A Cautionary Tale of a Local Average Treatment Effect," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 347-376.
    2. Peña, Pablo A. & Duckworth, Angela L., 2018. "The effects of relative and absolute age in the measurement of grit from 9th to 12th grade," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 183-190.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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).
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Peña, Pablo A., 2020. "Relative age and investment in human capital," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    2. Fumarco, L. & Baert, S. & Sarracino, F., 2020. "Younger, dissatisfied, and unhealthy – Relative age in adolescence," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 37(C).
    3. Tony Beatton & Michael P. Kidd & Anthony Niu & Francis Vella, 2023. "Age of Starting School, Academic Performance, and the Impact of Non‐Compliance: An Experiment within an Experiment, Evidence from Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 99(325), pages 175-206, June.
    4. Abatemarco, Antonio & Cavallo, Mariagrazia & Marino, Immacolata & Russo, Giuseppe, 2021. "Age Effects in Education: A Double Disadvantage for Second-Generation Immigrant Children," GLO Discussion Paper Series 761, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    5. Fumarco, Luca & Hartmann, Sven A. & Principe, Francesco, 2024. "A Neglected Determinant of Eating Behaviors: Relative Age," IZA Discussion Papers 16920, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Fumarco, Luca & Baert, Stijn, 2019. "Relative age effect on European adolescents’ social network," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 318-337.
    7. Michael Bahrs & Mathias Schumann, 2020. "Unlucky to be young? The long-term effects of school starting age on smoking behavior and health," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 33(2), pages 555-600, April.
    8. Cook, Philip J. & Kang, Songman, 2020. "Girls to the front: How redshirting and test-score gaps are affected by a change in the school-entry cut date," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 76(C).
    9. Görlitz, Katja & Penny, Merlin & Tamm, Marcus, 2022. "The long-term effect of age at school entry on cognitive competencies in adulthood," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 194(C), pages 91-104.
    10. YAMAGUCHI Shintaro & ITO Hirotake & NAKAMURO Makiko, 2020. "Month-of-Birth Effects on Skills and Skill Formation," Discussion papers 20079, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    11. Youwei Wang & Yuxin Chen & Yi Qian, 2018. "The Causal Link between Relative Age Effect and Entrepreneurship: Evidence from 17 Million Users across 49 Years on Taobao," NBER Working Papers 25318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Guo, Chuanyi & Wang, Xuening & Meng, Chen, 2023. "Does the early bird catch the worm? Evidence and interpretation on the long-term impact of school entry age in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    13. Yoosik Shin, 2023. "School starting age policy and students' risky health behaviors," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(11), pages 2446-2459, November.
    14. Berniell, Inés & Estrada, Ricardo, 2020. "Poor little children: The socioeconomic gap in parental responses to school disadvantage," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(C).
    15. repec:hal:spmain:info:hdl:2441/6vfmfoopnt95qblsf6jj9f6ics is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Mühlenweg, Andrea & Blomeyer, Dorothea & Stichnoth, Holger & Laucht, Manfred, 2012. "Effects of age at school entry (ASE) on the development of non-cognitive skills: Evidence from psychometric data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 68-76.
    17. Jill Furzer & Elizabeth Dhuey & Audrey Laporte, 2022. "ADHD misdiagnosis: Causes and mitigators," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(9), pages 1926-1953, September.
    18. Patrizia Ordine & Giuseppe Rose, 2019. "Early entry, age-at-test, and schooling attainment: evidence from Italian primary schools," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 36(3), pages 761-784, October.
    19. Fumarco, Luca & Baert, Stijn, 2018. "Younger and Dissatisfied? Relative Age and Life-satisfaction in Adolescence," GLO Discussion Paper Series 278, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    20. Krzysztof Karbownik & Umut Özek, 2023. "Setting a Good Example? Examining Sibling Spillovers in Educational Achievement Using a Regression Discontinuity Design," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 58(5), pages 1567-1607.
    21. Pauline Givord, 2021. "How age at school entry affects future educational and socioemotional outcomes: Evidence from PISA," Working Papers hal-03386582, HAL.

    More about this item


    second-generation immigrants; education; age effects; double disadvantage.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:sef:csefwp:567. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Dr. Maria Carannante (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.