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Modeling the Effects of Grade Retention in High School


  • Cockx, Bart
  • Picchio, Matteo
  • Baert, Stijn


A dynamic discrete choice model is set up to estimate the effects of grade retention in high school, both in the short-run (end-of-year evaluation) and in the long-run (drop-out and delay). In contrast to other evaluation approaches, this model captures essential treatment heterogeneity and controls for grade-varying unobservable determinants. In addition, forced track downgrading is considered as an alternative remedial measure. Our results indicate that grade retention has a neutral effect on academic achievement in the short-run. In the long-run, grade retention, just like forced downgrading, has adverse effects on schooling outcomes and, more so, for less able pupils.

Suggested Citation

  • Cockx, Bart & Picchio, Matteo & Baert, Stijn, 2017. "Modeling the Effects of Grade Retention in High School," GLO Discussion Paper Series 148, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:148

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    Cited by:

    1. Filomena, Mattia & Giorgetti, Isabella & Picchio, Matteo, 2022. "Off to a Bad Start: Youth Nonemployment and Labor Market Outcomes Later in Life," IZA Discussion Papers 15366, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Stijn Baert & Dieter Verhaest, 2021. "Work Hard or Play Hard? Degree Class, Student Leadership and Employment Opportunities," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 83(4), pages 1024-1047, August.
    3. Baert, Stijn & Picchio, Matteo, 2021. "A signal of (Train)ability? Grade repetition and hiring chances," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 867-878.
    4. Neyt, Brecht & Verhaest, Dieter & Baert, Stijn, 2020. "The impact of dual apprenticeship programmes on early labour market outcomes: A dynamic approach," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    5. Javier Valbuena & Mauro Mediavilla & Álvaro Choi & María Gil, 2021. "Effects Of Grade Retention Policies: A Literature Review Of Empirical Studies Applying Causal Inference," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(2), pages 408-451, April.
    6. Cockx, B. & Declercq, Koen & Dejemeppe, Muriel, 2022. "Losing prospective entitlement to unemployment benefits. Impact on educational attainment," ROA Research Memorandum 003, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    7. Neyt, Brecht & Verhaest, Dieter & Baert, Stijn, 2019. "The Impact of Internship Experience During Secondary Education on Schooling and Labour Market Outcomes," GLO Discussion Paper Series 425, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    8. Hugo Reis & Emilio Borghesan, 2022. "Learning Through Repetition? A Dynamic Evaluation of Grade Retention in Portugal," Working Papers w202220, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    9. Loviglio, Annalisa, 2023. "School Quality beyond Test Scores: The Role of Schools in Shaping Educational Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 16111, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Matteo Picchio & Claudia Pigini & Stefano Staffolani & Alina Verashchagina, 2021. "If not now, when? The timing of childbirth and labor market outcomes," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 36(6), pages 663-685, September.
    11. By Stijn Baert & Brecht Neyt & Eddy Omey & Dieter Verhaest, 2022. "Student work during secondary education, educational achievement, and later employment: a dynamic approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 63(3), pages 1605-1635, September.
    12. De Groote, Olivier, 2019. "Dynamic Effort Choice in High School: Costs and Benefits of an Academic Track," TSE Working Papers 19-1002, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Jun 2023.
    13. Baert, Stijn & Neyt, Brecht & Omey, Eddy & Verhaest, Dieter, 2017. "Student Work, Educational Achievement, and Later Employment: A Dynamic Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 11127, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    14. Bach, Maximilian, 2019. "Strategic grade retention," ZEW Discussion Papers 19-059, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    15. Zhang, Shiying & Huang, Ao, 2022. "The long-term effects of automatic grade promotion on child development," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    16. Simon ter Meulen, 2023. "Long-Term Effects of Grade Retention," CESifo Working Paper Series 10212, CESifo.
    17. Servaas van der Berg & Gabrielle Wills & Rebecca Selkirk & Charles Adams & Chris van Wyk, 2019. "The cost of repetition in South Africa," Working Papers 13/2019, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    Education; grade retention; track mobility; dynamic discrete choice models; heterogeneous treatment effects;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C35 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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