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In nearly all countries, schooling starting age is determined by a school entry cut-off date so that children born just before the cut-off date (early school starters) enter school almost one year ahead of those born just after (late school starters). Across a variety of countries and contexts, early school starters have higher rates of diagnoses and prescriptions for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), one of the most prevalent mental disorders in childhood.

Much of the economics literature has attributed this gap between early and late starters to a peer-comparison bias by teachers comparing children of different relative ages in the same class. In this project, we adopt a more comprehensive framework to unravel other underlying mechanisms besides the relative age effect. These other drivers are the age at school entry, the length of school exposure, and the absolute age at measurement of symptoms of ADHD.

For our analysis, we leverage QResearch, a novel administrative data source on general practices and hospitals in England, which provides information on health conditions, prescriptions, and treatments of children from birth onward.

Our team