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Unlucky to be young? The long-term effects of school starting age on smoking behavior and health

Michael Bahrs () and Mathias Schumann ()
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Michael Bahrs: Universität Hamburg
Mathias Schumann: Universität Hamburg

Journal of Population Economics, 2020, vol. 33, issue 2, No 7, 555-600

Abstract: Abstract The literature on school entry laws has shown that relative school starting age affects smoking behavior and health in adolescence, yet it remains unclear whether these effects persist into adulthood. Filling this gap, we analyze the long-term effects of relative school starting age on smoking behavior and health in adulthood. This study employs a fuzzy regression discontinuity design, using school entry rules combined with birth month as an instrument for school starting age. The analysis adopts data from the German Socio-Economic Panel. The results reveal that an increase in relative school starting age significantly reduces the long-term risk of smoking, improves long-term health, and affects physical rather than mental health. Several robustness checks confirm these results. In addition, we present suggestive evidence that the relative age composition of peers and the school environment are important mechanisms.

Keywords: Smoking; Health; Education; School starting age; Regression discontinuity design (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s00148-019-00745-6

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