Suburban Legend: School Cutoff Dates and the Timing of Births
42 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2009
Date Written: February 2009
Many states require children to reach five years of age by a specified calendar date in order to begin kindergarten. We use birth certificate records from 1999 to 2004 to assess whether parents systematically time childbirth before school cutoff dates to capture the option value of sending their child to school at a relatively young age, thereby avoiding a year of child care costs. Testing for discontinuities in the distribution of births around cutoff dates, we find no evidence that the financial benefits influence the timing of birth. Similarly, we find no systematic discontinuities in average mothers' characteristics or babies' health outcomes around cutoff dates. Timing in the neighborhood of school cutoffs occurs only when the cutoffs coincide with weekends or holidays, which may have implications for recent research that assumes birth dates in the neighborhood of cutoffs are essentially randomly assigned.
Keywords: Kindergarten cutoff, regression discontinuity, birth timing
JEL Classification: H70, I21, J13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation