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• We estimate causal impacts of school enrollment age on child educational outcomes.
• Identification exploits the jump in enrollment age around the enrollment cut-off.
• Delayed enrollment increases the incidence of first-grade retention for boys.
• Delayed enrollment reduces the incidence of middle school enrollment for boys.
• No statistically significant delayed enrolment effects are found for girls.
This paper estimates the causal impacts of delayed primary school enrollment on children's educational outcomes in rural China. Instrumental variable estimates exploiting the discontinuity in children's enrollment age around the enrollment cut-off date indicate that a one-year delay in school enrollment increases the incidence of first-grade retention by approximately 10 percentage points for boys and reduces the probabilities of middle school enrollment by 6 percentage points for both boys and girls. These results suggest that delayed enrollment, even if it may be an optimal choice made by poor parents in response to financial constraints, is likely to be harmful to children's educational development in rural China.
Journal: International Journal of Educational Development - Volume 45, November 2015, Pages 112–128