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Many factors in early years’ education can have lasting effects. In this video, FELIX WEINHARDT analyzes the impact that a student’s rank position in the elementary school classroom can have in later life. Working with data from England and Texas, Weinhardt observes that a student’s rank position at the top, middle or bottom of their elementary school class, along with shifts in that position, can affect not only test scores and subject choice but, potentially, also, college attendance and earnings. The research provides an important starting point for further work on how we can best organize our schools and classrooms to bring about overall gains.


Dr. Felix Weinhardt is a Research Associate at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin). Having completed his PhD at the London School of Economics, Weinhardt has held postdoctoral fellowships at LSE and at Humboldt University, Berlin. His research interests include education economics and the causes and consequences of social inequality. With Richard Murphy, Weinhardt was the recipient of the 2016 UWIN Best Paper Award on Gender Economics.

Original publication

Class Rank and Long-run Outcomes

Denning Jeffrey T., Murphy Richard J. and Weinhardt Felix
National Bureau of Economic Research
Published in 2020

Top of the Class: The Importance of Ordinal Rank

Weinhardt Felix and Murphy Richard
NBER Working Paper
Published in 2018