More popular because you’re older? Relative age effect on popularity among adolescents in class

Danelien van Aalst*, Frank van Tubergen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Previous studies have found a significant effect of pupil’s month of birth on their school- and sports performances. The current study investigates whether this so-called relative age effect also exists in a rather unexplored domain, namely popularity among adolescents in school classes. Whereas prior studies examined relative age related to the cut-off date at primary school entry, we also study possible relative age effects regarding the age composition within pupils’ current school class. Data are from nationally-representative surveys among 14–15 year-old pupils from the Netherlands, Sweden and England. Results indicate a statistically significant positive relation of both types of relative age with popularity status in classes. The relation of past relative age is particularly strong in England, which has a system of social promotion, whereas current relative age is strong in the Netherlands, with its system of grade retention. These findings underscore the importance of education policy.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0249336
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 5-May-2021


  • Relative Age Effect
  • Popularity
  • Adolescents

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