Are We Wasting Our Time At School? Causal Evidence of the Impact of Shortening Secondary School Duration

Bettina Buettner, Stephan L. Thomsen
Otto-von-Guericke-Universitšt, Germany

This paper analyzes the impact of shortening the length of higher secondary schooling on human capital accumulation. A policy reform in the German state of Saxony-Anhalt implemented in 2003 provides a natural experiment by abolishing the 13th year for students in the 9th grade and leaving students in the 10th grade unaffected. The curriculum remained almost unchanged. Using data from the double cohort of graduates in 2007, we find significant negative effects of shortening secondary school duration on student performance in math for both gender and in English for females, whereas the effects on literature are not statistically signifficant.

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