The impact of Ramadan exposure on academic performance: evidence from Dutch secondary education
Date and time
August 10, 2021
15:00 - 16:00
This paper investigates the impact of Ramadan observance on academic performance. For identification, we exploit the year-to-year variation in Ramadan exposure that students in the Netherlands experience during the high school graduation exam. This variation derives from the fact that the starting date of the Ramadan month changes every year, while the graduation exam always takes place in May. Our analysis is carried out at school level. We use a threshold to classify schools as treated or control depending on the percentage of students with a non-western migration background, which is used as a proxy for the percentage of Muslim students. Schools having a percentage of students with this background that is higher than the threshold are classified as treated, the others as controls. Applying a difference-in-differences model, we find that the average exam grade in treated schools is lowered by 21% of a standard deviation if the exam takes place during the Ramadan month. The impact of Ramadan observance is particularly relevant for quantitative exams conducted in the afternoon and for exams that take place in the first week of the Ramadan month.