Does School Performance Increase when Children Enter at Younger Ages?

Dean R. Lillard, Cornell University
Jennifer Gerner, Cornell University

Our paper investigates whether enrollment at earlier ages increases school performance. We use data from the Children of the NLSY79 to examine performance as a function of home inputs, school inputs and instability at home, school, and the neighborhood. We characterize school performance using test scores from standardized ability tests administered to these children at ages 3, 6, and 9. We focus on the age at which a child first enrolled in school, recognizing that parents have some choice over this age. To estimate age of enrollment we take advantage of differences across states and over time in compulsory schooling laws that determine the age by which a child must be enrolled. Under the assumption that parents do not choose a state of residence based on these laws, we identify the policy effect of earlier enrollment on performance. We will estimate family and state fixed effects models.

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Presented in Session 26: Education Enrollment and Attainment