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The Empirical Content of Season-of-Birth Effects: An Investigation with Turkish Data

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  • Huzeyfe Torun
  • Semih Tumen

Abstract

Although the season of birth variable is often used as an instrumental variable to estimate the rate of returns to schooling in the labor economics literature, there is an emerging consensus that the season of birth is systematically associated with later outcomes in life such as the educational and labor market success; thus, it is highly likely non-random. Using a large micro-level data set from Turkey, we argue that the degree of this non-randomness can be even larger in a developing-country context. Specifically, we show that around 20 percent of all individuals in Turkey have January as their registered month of birth due to a combination of geographical, seasonal, institutional, and idiosyncratic factors that lead to misreporting. We further document that being January-born strongly predicts worse socio-economic outcomes in later life. We show that this can be a serious problem in evaluating policies that define eligibility based on the month of birth such as compulsory schooling and compulsory military service laws that set the eligibility birth date cutoff as the January 1st. We confirm the validity of this concern based on a series of regression discontinuity design exercises. We conclude that, in a developing-country context, additional caution should be exercised when using the season-of-birth variable as a statistical tool.

Suggested Citation

  • Huzeyfe Torun & Semih Tumen, 2017. "The Empirical Content of Season-of-Birth Effects: An Investigation with Turkish Data," Working Papers 1721, Research and Monetary Policy Department, Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey.
  • Handle: RePEc:tcb:wpaper:1721
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    Cited by:

    1. Bahadir Dursun & Resul Cesur & Inas Rashad Kelly, 2017. "The Value of Mandating Maternal Education in a Developing Country," NBER Working Papers 23492, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Torun, Huzeyfe & Tumen, Semih, 2016. "The effects of compulsory military service exemption on education and labor market outcomes: Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 16-35.
    3. Hofmarcher, Thomas, 2017. "The Effect of Paid Vacation on Health: Evidence from Sweden," Working Papers 2017:13, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 17 Nov 2018.
    4. Anne (A.C.) Gielen & Esmee Zwiers, 2018. "Biology and the gender gap in educational performance - The role of prenatal testosterone in test scores," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 18-086/V, Tinbergen Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Season-of-birth effects; IV; Education; Earnings; Family background; Misreporting;

    JEL classification:

    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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