A Signal of (Train)Ability? Grade Repetition and Hiring Chances

27 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2020 Last revised: 8 Jun 2022

See all articles by Stijn Baert

Stijn Baert

Ghent University; University of Antwerp; Catholic University of Louvain (UCL); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Matteo Picchio

Polytechnic University of Marche


This article contributes to the nascent literature on the effect of grade retention in school on later labour market success. A field experiment is conducted to rule out the endogeneity of both outcomes. More concretely, various treatments of grade retention are randomly assigned to fictitious résumés sent in application to real vacancies. Overall, grade retention does not significantly affect positive call-back by employers. However, when narrowing in on vacancies for occupations where on-the-job training is important, job candidates with a record of grade retention are 16% less likely to receive a positive reaction. This finding is consistent with Queuing theory.

Keywords: queuing, training, hiring youth, grade retention, signalling

JEL Classification: I21, J23, J70, C93

Suggested Citation

Baert, Stijn and Picchio, Matteo, A Signal of (Train)Ability? Grade Repetition and Hiring Chances. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13488, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3654925

Stijn Baert (Contact Author)

Ghent University ( email )

University of Antwerp ( email )

Prinsstraat 13
Antwerp, 2000

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.uantwerpen.be/nl/personeel/stijn-baert/

Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) ( email )

Place Montesquieu, 3
Louvain-la-Neuve, 1348

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.uclouvain.be/en-309318.html

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos/index_html?key=6832

Matteo Picchio

Polytechnic University of Marche ( email )

Piazzale Martelli 8
Ancona, 60121

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