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The Effect of School Starting Age on Special Needs Incidence and Child Development into Adolescence

Simone Balestra, Beatrix Eugster () and Helge Liebert

No 12515, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: Children starting school at older ages consistently exhibit better educational outcomes. In this paper, we underscore child development as a mechanism driving this effect. We study the causal effect of school starting age on a child's probability of developing special educational needs in early grades. We find that starting school at a relatively older age decreases the probability of developing special needs by approximately 6 percentage points. This decrease is due to a lower incidence of various behavioral and learning impairments. Importantly, the effect is not driven by non-expert over-referrals of relatively younger children to special needs services. The effect is persistent throughout compulsory schooling, resulting in higher test scores in grade eight. Although these performance differentials are significant, they do not affect labor market entry.

Keywords: child development; school starting age; special needs (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I14 I21 J13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu, nep-lab and nep-ure
Date: 2017-12
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