Social promotion in primary school: effects on grade progression

Margaret Alice Leighton, Priscila Souza, Stéphane Straub

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper evaluates the effect of relaxing promotion criteria in early primary school on grade delay in later years. Exploiting variation in primary school repetition policies across Brazilian municipalities, we find that social promotion in junior primary years reduces grade delay, and that some of this reduction persists through the transition to senior primary school. Cohorts of twelve-year-old students who have been exposed to the social promotion policy since they were seven have almost 5 percentage points fewer members who are delayed a year or more in their studies than do similar cohorts who faced the threat of retention every year. We also find that, when the option is available, students sort across schools in response to the policy in a way consistent with negative selection into social promotion.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-33
    JournalBrazilian Review of Econometrics
    Issue number1
    Early online date30 Jun 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2019


    • Grade repetition
    • Primary education
    • Remedial education
    • Social promotion
    • Grading thresholds


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