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The gift of time? School starting age and mental health

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781-802
Number of pages22
JournalHealth Economics
Issue number5
Early online date9 Feb 2018
DateAccepted/In press - 12 Dec 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 9 Feb 2018
DatePublished (current) - 1 May 2018


Using linked Danish survey and register data, we estimate the causal effect of age at kindergarten entry on mental health. Danish children are supposed to enter kindergarten in the calendar year in which they turn 6 years. In a "fuzzy" regression-discontinuity design based on this rule and exact dates of birth, we find that a 1-year delay in kindergarten entry dramatically reduces inattention/hyperactivity at age 7 (effect size = –0.73), a measure of self-regulation with strong negative links to student achievement. The effect is primarily identified for girls but persists at age 11.

    Research areas

  • mental health, school starting age



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