The Long-term Effects of Higher Track School Attendance

Christian Dustmann1, Patrick Puhani 2, Uta Schönberg1
1University College London, UK, 2Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany

We estimate the effect of school quality on educational achievement and earnings. Random variation in educational quality is obtained from a discontinuity design where birth month influences the educational path of students for at least six years in the German school tracking system. The natural experiment occurs through school entry age effects, driven by birth month, on the educational track choice. Students are segregated according to their performance at age 10 in Germany, very early by international comparison. We show that this effect of birth month on school entry age and subsequently on track choice persists for at least 6 years and implies significant school quality effects. Using administrative data on students and workers, we show that earnings effects of these randomly allocated school qualities are close to zero. One reason for this finding is that students allocated to the non-academic vocational track make use of the flexibility of the German school system by upgrading their educational level (and vice versa).

View full paper