Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Do Younger Students Do Better?

In a recent IZA working paper, Billari and Pellizzari show that the youngest students in an Italian university perform better compared to their oldest peers, particularly in the most technical subjects. They also find that the youngest students perform slightly better in cognitive tests and also appear to have less active social lives: they are less likely to do sports, go to discos and have romantic relationships. Based on this, Billari and Pellizzari suggest:

(i) a profile of cognitive development that might be decreasing already around age 20; (ii) psychological relative age effects that lead the youngest in a cohort to develop social skills (self-esteem, leadership) at a slower pace

Their conclusion is that younger students have less active social lives and devote more time to studying (which they say is backed up by additional evidence from the PISA study).

2 comments:

Kevin Denny said...

Other things being equal, older students are more likely to be repeating a year so are likely to be of lower ability?

Martin Ryan said...

The other things that "might not be equal" could be factors related to college adjustment or mental health issues. I wonder if these factors or ability levels contribute more to repeating and drop-out.