Child's Birthday Month Impacts Educational Future, Research Shows

Babies born in August are less likely to gain a place at top colleges and are more likely to study practical courses than those born at the start of the academic year, according to a study released Tuesday.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that babies born near the end of the academic year were likely to fall behind their peers by the age of seven, regardless of their social background.

The youngest children in the academic year were 20 percent less likely than those with September birthdays to attend the prestigious colleges, less likely to be school captain or club presidents and more likely to have less confidence in their academic ability, the study found.

"We find evidence of large and significant differences between August- and September-born children in terms of their cognitive skills, whether measured using national achievement tests or alternative indicators such as the British Ability Scales," the study said.

It added, "These gaps are particularly pronounced when considering teacher reports of their performance, moreover, they are also present when considering differences in socio-emotional development and engagement in a range of risky behaviors."

Children born in August were more likely to report being unhappy or experience bullying in their younger years than those born in September, the report found.

The IFS said that the research was intended as a step toward finding a way of tackling the disadvantages of being the youngest in a year group and that it planned to conduct additional research into how to address the imbalance.