Does the Month of Birth of Children in Northern Ireland Affect their Educational Success and self-reported Health later in Life?
Doebler, S. & Shuttleworth, I. (2014) BSPS Annual Conference 2014, Univ of Winchester, 8 - 10 September 2014. [NILS]
British and international research in education consistently found a positive effect of children’s month of birth on their educational success and health later in life. Children born soon before the school-enrolment date have been found to be disadvantaged, as they are almost a year younger than their classmates. For example research in England and Wales, where school-enrolment starts on the 1 September found children born in July and August to be significantly more likely to perform worse: they obtain lower grades and are less likely to obtain a degree later in life than their older class-mates. The birth-month disadvantage was found across social strata. This paper tests whether the birth-month effect observed in England and Wales is also found in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is a well-suited setting for this comparison, because in contrast to England and Wales, the school-enrolment date is 1 July. Northern Ireland may thus (with caveats) function as a quasi-natural experiment. This paper presents findings from statistical analyses of the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS), a representative sample of the Northern Irish population based on 2001 and 2011 Census data linked to administrative data including health records. OLS and binary logistic regression models of relationships between the month of birth, socio-structural, and childhood-deprivation indicators and two outcomes: educational success (having obtained a degree, having no academic qualification later in life) and self-reported health show a null-result. In Northern Ireland the month of birth does not statistically significantly influence educational success and self-reported health later in life.