Empirical Economics

, Volume 32, Issue 2–3, pp 359–386 | Cite as

Does the early bird catch the worm?

Instrumental variable estimates of early educational effects of age of school entry in Germany
  • Patrick A. Puhani
  • Andrea M. Weber
Original Paper


We estimate the effect of age of school entry on educational outcomes using two different data sets for Germany, sampling pupils at the end of primary school and in the middle of secondary school. Results are obtained based on instrumental variable estimation exploiting the exogenous variation in month of birth. We find robust and significant positive effects on educational outcomes for pupils who enter school at 7 instead of 6 years of age: test scores at the end of primary school increase by about 0.40 standard deviations and the probability to attend the highest secondary schooling track (Gymnasium) increases by about 12% points.


Education Immigration Policy Identification 

JEL classification

I21 I28 J24 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Angrist JD (2004) American education research changes track. Oxf Rev Econ Policy 20:198–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angrist JD, Krueger AB (1992) The effect of age at school entry on educational attainment: an application of instrumental variables with moments from two samples. J Am Stat Assoc 87:328–335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumert J, Trautwein U, Artelt C (2003) Schulumwelten – institutionelle Bedingungen des Lehrens und Lernens. In: Deutsches PISA-Konsortium (ed) PISA 2000 . Ein differenzierter Blick auf die Länder der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Verlag Leske + Budrich, Opladen, pp 261–331Google Scholar
  4. Bedard K, Dhuey E (2006) The persistence of early childhood maturity: international evidence of long-run age effects. Working paper, Department of Economics University of California, Santa Barbara. Q J Econ (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  5. Bertram T, Pascal C (2002) Early years education: an international perspective. Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Bos W, Lankes EM, Prenzel M, Schwippert K, Walther G, Valtin R (2003) Erste Ergebnisse aus IGLU. Waxmann Verlag, MünsterGoogle Scholar
  7. Bound J, Jaeger DA, Baker RM (1995) Problems with instrumental variables estimation when the correlation between the instruments and the endogenous explanatory variables is weak. J Am Stat Assoc 90:443–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cunha F, Heckman JJ, Lochner L, Masterov DV (2006) Interpreting the evidence on life cycle skill formation. In: Hanushek E, Welch F (eds) Handbook of the economics of education. Elsevier, North-Holland, New York (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  9. Currie J (2001) Early childhood education programs. J Econ Perspect 15:213–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Del Bono E, Galindo-Rueda F (2004) Do a few months of compulsory schooling matter? The education and labour market impact of school leaving rules. IZA discussion paper no. 1233Google Scholar
  11. Dustmann C (2004) Parental background, secondary school track choice, and wages. Oxf Econ Pap 56:209–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fertig M, Kluve J (2005) The effect of age at school entry on educational attainment in Germany. IZA discussion paper no. 1507Google Scholar
  13. Fredriksson P, Öckert B (2005) Is early learning really more productive? The effect of school starting age on school and labour market performance. IZA discussion paper no. 1659Google Scholar
  14. Gonzalez EJ, Kennedy AM (2003) PIRLS 2001 user guide for the international database. International Study Center, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, BostonGoogle Scholar
  15. Graue ME, DiPerna J (2000) Redshirting and early retention: who gets the “Gift of Time” and what are its outcomes? Am Educ Res J 37:509–534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hahn J, Todd P, Van der Klaauw W (2001) Identification and estimation of treatment effects with a regression-discontinuity design. Econometrica 69:201–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hanushek EA, Wößmann L (2006) Does educational tracking affect performance and inequality?: differences-in-differences evidence across countries. Econ J 116:63–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hutchison D, Sharp C (1999) A lasting legacy? The persistence of season of birth effects. NFER conference paper, presented at the British Educational Research Association Conference, University of BrightonGoogle Scholar
  19. Imbens GW, Angrist JD (1994) Identification and estimation of local average treatment effects. Econometrica 62:467–475CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jimerson S, Carlson E, Rotert M, Egeland B, Sroufe LA (1997) A prospective, longitudinal study of the correlates and consequences of early grade retention. J Sch Psychol 35:3–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kern A (1951) Sitzenbleiberelend und Schulreife. Verlag Herder, FreiburgGoogle Scholar
  22. Kinard EM, Reinherz H (1986) Birthdate effects on school performance and adjustment: a longitudinal study. J Educ Res 79:366–372Google Scholar
  23. Leuven E, Lindahl M, Oosterbeek H, Webbink D (2004) New evidence on the effect of time in school on early achievement. HEW 0410001, Economics Working Paper Archive at WUSTLGoogle Scholar
  24. May DC, Kundert DK, Brent D (1995) Does delayed school entry reduce later grade retentions and use of special education services? Remedial Spec Educ 16:288–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mayer S, Knutson D (1999) Does the timing of school affect how much children learn?. In: Mayer S, Peterson P (eds) Earning and learning: how schools matter. Brookings Institution Press, Washington, pp 79–102Google Scholar
  26. Morrison FJ, Griffith EM, Alberts DM (1997) Nature-nurture in the classroom: entrance age, school readiness, and learning in children. Dev Psychol 33:254–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Proctor TB, Black KN, Feldhusen JF (1986) Early admission of selected children to elementary school: a review of the research literature. J Educ Res 80:70–76Google Scholar
  28. Puhani PA, Weber AM (2005) Does the early bird catch the worm? Instrumental variable estimates of educational effects of age of school enty in Germany. IZA discussion paper no. 1827Google Scholar
  29. Sharp C (2002) School starting age: European policy and recent research. In: NFER conference paper, presented at the LGA seminar ‘When Should Our Children Start School?’. LGA Conference Centre, LondonGoogle Scholar
  30. Staiger D, Stock JH (1997) Instrumental variables regression with weak instruments. Econometrica 65:557–586CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Stipek D (2002) At what age should children enter Kindergarten? A question for policy makers and parents. Soc Policy Rep 16:3–16Google Scholar
  32. Stipek D, Byler P (2001) Academic achievement and social behaviors associated with age of entry into kindergarten. Appl Dev Psychol 22:175–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Stock JH, Wright JH, Yogo M (2002) Survey of weak instruments and weak identification in generalized method of moments. J Bus Econ Stat 4:518–529CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Strøm B (2004) Student achievement and birthday effects. Mimeo, Norwegian University of Science and TechnologyGoogle Scholar
  35. Willer CW, Dyment DA, Sadovnick AD, Rothwell PM, Murray TJ, Ebers GC (2005) Timing of birth and risk of multiple sclerosis: population based study. Br Med J 330:120–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zill N, Loomis LS, West J (1997) National household education survey. The elementary school performance and adjustment of children who enter Kindergarten late or repeat Kindergarten: findings from national surveys. In: NCES statistical analysis report 98–097. US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, WashingtonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für ArbeitsökonomikUniversity of HannoverHannoverGermany
  2. 2.SIAWUniversity of St. GallenSt. GallenSwitzerland
  3. 3.IZABonnGermany
  4. 4.Darmstadt University of TechnologyDarmstadtGermany

Personalised recommendations