Can Regression Discontinuity Help Answer an Age-Old Question in Education? The Effect of Age on Elementary and Secondary School Achievement


Single-date school entry systems create large age differences between children in the same grade. Older students have been shown in the literature to outperform younger students along many elementary school outcomes, and some post-schooling outcomes. Little evidence exists about the size of these advantages in high school. Data from British Columbia, Canada are used to estimate the effect of age on test scores in grades 4, 7, and 10. I estimate that older students still have a sizable skill advantage in grade 10 across numeracy, reading, and writing tests. The advantage is strongest for girls and low-income students. The results suggest a certain degree of permanence to age related skill differences, which may spill over and affect adult outcomes.

The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 9 (1)
Justin Smith
Justin Smith
Associate Professor

My research interests include the economics of education and charitable giving.