Are We Spending Too Many Years in School? Causal Evidence of the Impact of Shortening Secondary School Duration

Bettina Büttner 1  and Stephan L. Thomsen 2
  • 1 Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg,, Magdeburg, Germany
  • 2 NIW Hannover & Leibniz Universität Hannover,, Hanover, Germany


During the last decade, most of the German states have abolished the final year of higher secondary schooling while keeping academic content almost unaltered. We evaluate the effects of the reform in Saxony-Anhalt for the double cohort of graduates in 2007. In 2003, the 13th year of schooling was eliminated for students in grade 9, while tenth grade students were unaffected. This provides a natural experiment for analyzing the impact on schooling achievements and educational choice. We find negative effects on grades in mathematics, but no effects in German literature. Moreover, a significant share of females were found to delay university enrollment.

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