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Peer Effects

Paper Session

Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Atlanta Marriott Marquis, A701
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Amanda Griffith, Wake Forest University

Does the Girl Next Door Affect Your Academic Outcomes and Career Choices?

Rigissa Megalokonomou
,
University of Queensland
Sofoklis Goulas
,
Stanford University
Yi Zhang
,
University of Queensland

Abstract

Gender peer effects are potentially important for optimally organising schools and neighborhoods. In this paper, we examine how the gender of classmates and neighbors affects a variety of high school outcomes and the choice of university major. Given that students are assigned to schools based on proximity from residential address, we define as neighbors all same-cohort peers who attend any other school within a mile (1.06) from one's school. To control for potentially confounding unobserved characteristics of schools and neighborhoods that might be correlated with peer gender composition, we exploit within-school and -neighborhood idiosyncratic variation in the proportion of females across consecutive cohorts in the twelfth grade. Using data for the universe of students in public schools in Greece between 2004 and 2009, we find that a higher share of females in school or neighborhood improves both genders' subsequent scholastic performance, increases their university admission rates, makes them more likely to enrol in university compared to education institutes and affects the choice of university study. In particular, we find that only females are more likely to enrol in STEM university departments and target more lucrative occupations when they have more female peers in school or neighborhood. Our effects are of higher magnitude for girls compared to boys and we also find that the effects coming from neighbors are as large as the ones coming from schoolmates. We also find that: 1) the effect is non-linear, namely the effects are larger for schools and neighborhood cohorts with a large majority of female peers and 2) the effects are larger in low-income schools and neighborhoods.

Inference with Returns to Schooling in the Presence of Peer Effects

Marcelo J. Moreira
,
Getulio Vargas Foundation
Geert Ridder
,
University of Southern California

Abstract

This paper uses model symmetries in the instrumental variable (IV) regression to derive an
invariant test for the causal structural parameter. We apply the test to evaluate returns
to education in the presence of peer effects. Contrary to popular belief, we show there
exist model symmetries when there are cross-individual effects. Our result is consistent with the existing theory for the homoskedastic model, but in general the test uses information on the structural parameter beyond the Anderson-Rubin, score, and rank statistics. We show that, in the presence of peer effects, existing inference methods may be uninformative for returns to schooling. We then use the model symmetries and apply a Conditional Invariant Likelihood test for returns to schooling.

Peer Effects on Violence: Experimental Evidence in El Salvador

Lelys Ileana Dinarte
,
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

Abstract

This paper provides experimental evidence of the overall impact of a ``like-CBT'' after-school program on students’ behavioral and academic outcomes, and of the role of having different levels of violent peers in that context. Participants were between 10-16 years old and enrolled in public schools in El Salvador. I find that the program reduced bad behavior reports by 0.17 standard deviations, school absenteeism by 23%, and increased school grades by 0.11-0.13 standard deviations. Changes in highly violent students mainly drove the results. Regarding group composition, results indicate that integrating students with different propensities for violence was better than segregating them, for both high and less violent children. Particularly, the intervention can have unintended effects if highly violent students are segregated and treated separately from their less violent peers. Finally, I find positive social spillover effects for non- enrolled children exposed to treated students.

The Impact of School Tracking and Peer Quality on Student Achievement: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Thailand

Meradee Tangvatcharapong
,
Texas A&M University

Abstract

Ability tracking, or the practice of sorting students into classrooms based on ability, is regularly used around the world. In the US, around 75% of the schools surveyed by the National Assessment of Education Process (NAEP) reported using tracking in 8th grade mathematics. However, despite the popularity of tracking, relatively few papers directly identify the impact of being tracked into classrooms with higher or lower peer ability. This paper identifies the impact of being tracked into a classroom with higher ability peers by using data from public middle schools (7th-9th grade) in Thailand, where students are tracked into classrooms based on a preliminary exam taken before 7th grade. Importantly, all teachers, curriculum, and textbooks are identical throughout classrooms. To distinguish the impact of peers from confounding factors due to selection, I apply a regression discontinuity design (RDD) that compares the academic outcomes of students just above and just below the threshold. Results indicate that significant increases in peer quality do not improve student GPA. This suggests that any gains due to tracking, at least in Asian contexts similar to this, are likely due to other factors changing, such as the intensity of curriculum or teacher quality, rather than to changes in peer quality.

Within-School Diversity and Student-Level Socioeconomic Outcomes: Evidence from Chile

Juan Angel Matamala Gonzalez
,
University of California-Los Angeles
Mikhail Poyker
,
University of California-Los Angeles

Abstract

We exploit a natural experiment in the Chilean educational system to identify the causal effect of within-school exposure to ethnic diversity on students' attitudes, educational attainment, and earnings. We create unique and extremely detailed individual-level panel with information on various observables and socioeconomic outcomes for the universe of Chilean primary and high school students between 2002 and 2013. Using an event-study design, we show that diversity improves socioeconomic outcomes for children of ethnic groups, and has no negative impact on other children in the long-run.
JEL Classifications
  • I2 - Education and Research Institutions