Attendance Laws Actually Do Keep Kids In School

Some observers claim that compulsory school-attendance laws have little effect on students who are potential dropouts. But a new study by Joshua D. Angrist of Harvard University and Alan B. Krueger of Princeton University disputes this view. Noting that most states require students to stay in school until they reach their 16th birthday, the two economists examined attendance records of students born early and late in the calendar year. Because of school-entrance policies, children born early in the year typically enter first grade at an older age than those born late in the year. Thus, they reach 16 with less schooling and are legally free to drop out.

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