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Economics Bulletin








A student's relative age in their schooling cohort has been shown related to several measures of academic and labor market success. Here, we focus on a singular outcome: the probability of college course failure. Even within a sample constrained to students with traditional academic progression and who completed their college degree program, we find evidence relatively younger students were more likely to fail courses. The estimated impact is larger for males, minorities, and those with less academic success before college. Statistical significance remains constant across the parental income distribution. Students within the sample represent over 600 colleges and universities across the United States. Three different empirical methodologies are used: fixed effects regression, two-stage least squares, and regression discontinuity design. Results have implications for educational policy and provide motivation for further study of the relationship between relative age and collegiate success.


© 2024 The Author. Previously published in Economics Bulletin.

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0000-0003-0439-6818 (Walker)

Original Publication Citation

Routon, P. W., & Walker, J. K. (2024). Older and wiser? Relative age and college course failure. Economics Bulletin, 44(1), 1-10.