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Month of birth and academic performance: differences by gender and educational stage

Pilar Beneito () and Pedro Javier Soria-Espin ()

No 120, Discussion Papers in Economic Behaviour from University of Valencia, ERI-CES

Abstract: The month in which you were born can have a significant impact in your academic life. It is well documented that people who are born in the first months of the academic year tend to have better educational achievement than their younger peers within the same cohort. However, there is little literature addressing this relationship looking at differences by gender and educational stage. In this paper we fill this gap by studying the effect of the month of birth on academic performance of students at the University of Valencia (Spain). Using a Regression Discontinuity (RD) design we create a cut-off in 1st January to determine whether an individual is among the oldest (right to the cut-off) or among the youngest (left to the cut-off) within her cohort. We find that being relatively old has a positive effect on the access-to-university examination score for female students but not for their male peers. In addition, this effect seems to be concentrated in the upper quantiles of the entry score distribution and attenuates for university grades. We attribute this effect to a virtuous circle developed from early childhood, which is a recurring cycle of behavioral responses that translates into higher self-confidence for older students. Women appear to be more sensible to this effect than men.

Keywords: month of birth; academic achievement; behavioral responses; gender; sharp regression discontinuity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C01 D9 I23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-gen
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