Why Young Boys Stumble: Early Tracking, Age and Gender Bias in the German School System


Address for correspondence: Hendrik Jürges, Department of Economics, University of Wuppertal, Rainer-Gruenter-Str. 21 (FN.01), 42119 Wuppertal, Germany. Tel.: +49 202 439 1385; fax: +49 202 439 1384; e-mail: juerges@uni-wuppertal.de


Abstract. After primary school, German pupils are given a secondary school track recommendation. This recommendation and the actual track choice are strongly associated with later life outcomes. Using data from the German PISA 2000 extension study, we analyze the effect of relative age on track recommendations and actual choice. Younger pupils and boys are less likely to be recommended to and enrolled in the academic track (Gymnasium), the most attractive track in terms of later life outcomes. Flexible enrollment and grade retention partly offset these effects. We find no convincing evidence that postponing the recommendation by lengthening primary school by 2 years reduces the age or gender bias.