P. Beneito & P.J. Soria-Espin (2020): "Month of birth and academic performance: differences by gender and educational stage" ERI-CES Working Paper"

Abstract: The month in which you were born can have a significant impact in your academic life. It is well documented that people who are born in the first months of the academic year tend to have better educational achievement than their younger peers within the same cohort. However, there is little literature addressing this relationship looking at differences by gender and educational stage. In this paper I fill this gap by studying the effect of the month of birth on academic performance of students at the University of Valencia (Spain) exploring the aforementioned differences. Using a sharp Regression Discontinuity (RD) design I create a cut-off in 1st January to determine whether an individual is among the oldest (right to the cut-off) or among the youngest (left to the cut-off) within her cohort. I find that being relatively old has a positive effect on the access-to-university examination score for female students but not for their male peers. In addition, this effect seems to be concentrated in the upper quantiles of the entry score distribution and attenuates for university grades. I attribute this effect to a virtuous circle developed from early childhood, which is a recurring cycle of behavioral responses that translates into higher self-confidence for older students. Women appear to be more sensible to this effect than men.

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