The Long-Term Effects of Early Track Choice

63 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2014

See all articles by Christian Dustmann

Christian Dustmann

University College London; Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Patrick A. Puhani

Leibniz Universität Hannover; University of St. Gallen - Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas

Uta Schönberg

University of Rochester; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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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: tracking, school quality, peer effects, regression discontinuity design

JEL Classification: I21, J10

Suggested Citation

Dustmann, Christian and Puhani, Patrick A. and Schönberg, Uta, The Long-Term Effects of Early Track Choice. IZA Discussion Paper No. 7897, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2385154

Christian Dustmann (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

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Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Patrick A. Puhani

Leibniz Universität Hannover ( email )

Institut für Arbeitsökonomik
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30167 Hannover, DE 30167
Germany

University of St. Gallen - Swiss Institute for International Economics and Applied Economic Research ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Germany

Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas

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France

Uta Schönberg

University of Rochester ( email )

Rochester, NY 14627
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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