The heterogeneous effects of early track assignment on cognitive and non-cognitive skills

Maria Cotofan, Ron Diris, Trudie Schils

Research output: Working paper / PreprintDiscussion paper


Previous findings on (fleeting) relative age effects in school suggest that, given innate ability, too few younger and too many older students attend academic tracks. Using a regression discontinuity design around school-specific admission thresholds, we estimate the cognitive and non-cognitive effects of track assignment at the achievement margin, across relative age. We find that attending the higher track does not affect cognitive outcomes at any relative age. For older students, attending the higher track increases perseverance, need for achievement, and emotional stability. The results suggest that older students compensate lower ability (given high track attendance) with higher effort.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherTinbergen Institute
Number of pages72
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

SeriesTinbergen Institute Discussion Paper Series

JEL classifications

  • i21 - Analysis of Education
  • j24 - "Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity"


  • educational economics
  • school tracking
  • relative age
  • non-cognitive skills

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