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Article
The impact of month of birth on the development of cognitive and non-cognitive skills throughout childhood
Date started: 07 October 2009

There is considerable variation in the age at which children in England start school, largely because those born between September of one year and August of the following year tend to start school at the same time. Recent IFS research examined the effects of school starting age on educational attainment, and found large and persistent effects. There is currently relatively little evidence on the extent to which other skills and behaviours may also be affected by school starting age, however.

This project has two key aims:

  • To identify the impact of month of birth on the development of a range of key skills - including cognitive, non-cognitive, behavioural, social and emotional skills - and engagement in a range of risky behaviours - including smoking, drinking and anti-social behaviour - amongst today's children.
  • To identify the best school admissions policy - in terms of all-round skill development and overall behaviour, as well as educational attainment - for a child born towards the end of the academic year, with a view to making clear and practical policy recommendations.

We will use data from the Millennium Cohort Study, the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, and the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England for this work, which, together, allow us to examine the effects of month of birth and school admissions policies on a wide range of outcomes from birth through to early adulthood.

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10 May 2013
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New research published today provides fresh evidence on the extent to which their month of birth continues to affect individuals throughout their lives.
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This paper is the first to apply the principle of maximum entropy to the month of birth problem.
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This paper uses data from a rich UK birth cohort to estimate the differences in cognitive and non-cognitive skills between children born at the start and end of the academic year.
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We provide the first evidence on whether differences in childhood outcomes translate into differences in the probability of employment, occupation and earnings for adults in the UK.
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This report aims to inform policy debate by providing clear evidence on the magnitude of the differences in outcomes between children and adults born at the start and end of the academic year in England.
14 March 2012
Presentations
Article
This presentation was given on 14 March at the Institute of Education.
01 November 2011
Presentations
Article
This is a multimedia recording of a presentation which looks at the findings of a report into the effects of month of birth on children's outcomes.
01 November 2011
IFS Briefing Notes
Article
The aim of this report is to identify the effect of month of birth on a range of key skills and behaviours amongst young people growing up in England today.
01 November 2011
Appendix
Article
This appendix accompanies IFS Briefing Note 122.
01 November 2011
IFS Press Releases
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New research shows that month of birth can impact a range of skills, behaviours and outcomes of young people growing up in England today.
10 May 2010
IFS Working Papers
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This paper examines the impact of month of birth on national achievement test scores in England whilst children are in school, and on subsequent further and higher education participation.

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Impact on Society
Why do children born at the start of the academic year do better at school than those born later? Using innovative techniques, we have shown that it is primarily because of the age at which children sit national achievement tests.