Are 12 Years of Schooling Sufficient Preparation for Tertiary Education? Evidence from the Reform of Secondary School Duration in Germany

NIW Discussion Paper No. 8

Meyer Tobias und Stephan L. Thomsen

December 2013 / Revised Version: August 2014

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An education reform in Germany reduced the duration of university preparatory schooling from 13 to 12 years, but left the curriculum unchanged. In the state of Saxony-Anhalt, the reform was completed in 2007 with a double cohort of graduates, providing a natural experiment. Using primary panel data from this double cohort, we find that students affected by the reform have similar motivation and abilities in university education as students having experienced the longer school duration. The probability of dropping out of university is also unchanged. Therefore, successful completion of studies and future labor market productivity should not be impaired.