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The Effects of Kindergarten Entry Age on Educational Mobility in Switzerland : Comparing Effects on Natives and Immigrants

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The Effects of Kindergarten Entry Age on Educational Mobility in Switzerland : Comparing Effects on Natives and Immigrants

Social and educational immobility are well-known issues that many researchers from different fields tried to address. Public schools can play an important role to reduce inequalities in society. The objective of this paper is to measure the importance of the age of entry in kindergarten on educational mobility in Switzerland, with a special focus on immigrants. To investigate this topic, I used a multiple linear regression model and the COFO-Suisse database. The latter gathers test scores in reading and multiple personal characteristics on about 20’000 Swiss children at the end of eighth grade in 2017. I could also take advantage of the cantonal heterogeneities in terms of age of entry in kindergarten in the period 2008-2010, which contributed to creating a well-dispersed sample. There are three main conclusions to draw. Firstly, the parental level of education significantly impacts the test scores in reading of all the children, confirming the expected pattern of intergenerational educational transmission. Secondly, the ideal age of entry in kindergarten seems to be five years old. The children who entered at that age perform significantly better than any other child. Finally, frequenting kindergarten at any age does not significantly reduce the effect of the parental level of education on children’s test scores. Thus, the age of entry is not of major importance to improve educational mobility, though the tendency is globally positive. The impact is more pronounced for natives than for immigrants.

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