Does the Early Bird Catch the Worm? Evidence and Interpretation on the Long-Term Impact of School Entry Age in China
47 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020 Last revised: 14 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 12, 2021
The long-term economic impact of children's age at primary school entry on educational attainment and labor market outcomes is one of the primary concerns to families, educators, and policymakers. Using a nationally representative survey of families and individuals, this paper is the first to explore these effects in a causal sense in the Chinese context and understand the underlying mechanisms. We use a regression discontinuity (RD) design that employs the threshold date for primary school entry set by the 1986 Compulsory Education Law of China as a source of exogenous variation in the timing of school entry. We first document a salient and robust compliance rate of school entry requirement. RD estimates indicate that being born right after the cutoff date significantly increases years of schooling and log annual earnings for non-agricultural jobs for the full sample. We also observe remarkable heterogeneous effects on labor market performance by gender. Being born right after the cutoff increases the probability of being in the labor force for men, but decreases that for women. Further evidence suggests that the decline in the female labor force participation can be explained by supply-side factors including fertility decision and childcare provision.
Keywords: School Entry Age, Educational Attainment, Labor Market Outcomes
JEL Classification: I21, I26, J21, J24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation