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The Long-Term Effects of Early Track Choice

Christian Dustmann, Patrick Puhani and Uta Schönberg ()
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Uta Schönberg: University College London

Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Uta Schoenberg

No 7897, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: Despite its efficiency in tailoring education to the needs of students, a tracking system has the inherent problem of misallocating students to tracks because of incomplete information at the time of the tracking decision. This paper investigates the effects of attending a more advanced track in middle school on long-term education and labor market outcomes for Germany, a country with a very rigorous tracking system where the risk of misallocating students to tracks is, due to the early age at which tracking takes place, particularly high. Our research design exploits quasi-random shifts between tracks induced by date of birth, and identifies the long-term effects of early track attendance for a group of marginal students most at risk of misallocation. Remarkably, we find no evidence that for these students, attending a more advanced track leads to more favorable long-term outcomes. We attribute this result to the up- and downgrading of students between tracks after middle school when more information about their potential is available. Overall, our findings underscore that flexibilities built into a tracking system, which allow students to revise initial track choices at a later stage, effectively remedy even a prolonged exposure to a less advanced school environment.

Keywords: regression discontinuity design; peer effects; school quality; tracking (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I21 J10 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu
Date: 2014-01
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Published in: Economic Journal, 2017, 127 (603), 1348–1380

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