Month of birth has wide impact on achievement

A new report suggests that the month of birth can have a wide impact on young people’s lives, and that August babies are less likely to go on to top universities. But does it really come as any great surprise that some younger children find it harder to learn – and what, if anything, can be done about it? Read more.

The study was published by The Institute for Fiscal Studies, a research body based in London. It revealed that, relative to children born in September, children born in August on average:

  • score substantially lower in national achievement tests and other measures of cognitive skills;
  • are 7 percentage points (20%) more likely to study for vocational qualifications if they stay on in post-compulsory education;
  • are 1½ percentage points (20%) less likely to attend a Russell Group university at age 19;
  • have lower confidence in their academic ability and are less likely to believe that they control their own destiny as teenagers.

They are also between 2½ and 3½ times more likely to be regarded as below average by their teachers in the three Rs at age 7, exhibit lower socio-emotional development, and twice as likely to report being bullied at age 7.

“Studying for academic qualifications, attending a Russell Group university, and believing that you have control over your own life are all associated with a greater chance of being in work and having higher wages later in life. This suggests that August-born children may end up doing worse than September-born children throughout their working lives, simply because of the month in which they were born,” said Claire Crawford, Programme Director at IFS and one of the authors of the report.

Does it come as any surprise that younger children find it harder to learn than slightly older children? And what, if anything, should be done about it?


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