NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Effect of Age at School Entry on Educational Attainment: An Application of Instrumental Variables with Moments from Two Samples

Joshua D. Angrist, Alan B. Krueger

NBER Working Paper No. 3571
Issued in December 1990
NBER Program(s):   LS

This paper tests the hypothesis that compulsory school attendance laws, which typically require school attendance until a specified birthday, induce a relationship between the years of schooling and age at school entry. Variation in school start age created by children's date of birth provides a natural experiment for estimation of the effect of age at school entry. Because no large data set contains information on both age at school entry and educational attainment, we use an Instrumental Variables (IV) estimator with data derived from the 1960 and 1980 Censuses to test the age-at-entry/compulsory schooling model. In most IV applications, the two covariance matrices that form the estimator are constructed from the same sample. We use a method of moments framework to discuss IV estimators that combine moments from different data sets. In our application, quarter of birth dummies are the instrumental variables used to link the 1960 Census, from which age at school entry can be derived for one cohort of students, to the 1980 Census, which contains educational attainment for the same cohort of students. The results suggest that roughly 10 percent of students were constrained to stay in school by compulsory schooling laws.

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Published: "Age at School Entry", Journal of American Statistical Association, Volume 57, No.412, pp.11 June 1992

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