A new study says that those students who were born right before the school cut-off day and thus youngest in their cohort face 30 percent higher risk of dying from suicides than their peer who were born right after the cut off date and thus older.
They also found that those with relative age disadvantage tend to follow a different career path than those with relative age advantage, which may explain their higher suicide mortality rates.
Tetsuya Matsubayashi, associate professor of Osaka University in Japan and Michiko Ueda, research assistant professor of Syracuse University in the US, examined how relative age in a grade affects suicide rates of adolescents and young adults between 15 and 25 years of age using individual death records in Japan.
This study showed that the relative age at school entry affects mortality rates by suicide, not just academic performance and economic outcomes as previous research had demonstrated. The findings highlight the importance of policy intervention that alleviates the relative age effect.
Given that education at the early stage of life plays an important role in people's future well-being, the arbitrary cut off of school entry will generate a life-time disadvantage by the timing of birth for a number of people, the study said.
The findings appeared in the journal PLOS ONE