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Raising your sights: the impact of friendship networks on educational aspirations

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  • Simon Burgess
  • Marcela Umaña-Aponte

    ()

Abstract

We use a unique longitudinal dataset on an adolescent friendship network to evaluate variations on educational aspirations of young people from disadvantaged and middle income backgrounds. We evaluate whether such people who have friends from wealthier backgrounds have higher aspirations than otherwise similar young people without such links. The results suggest that there are such effects. Individuals from low income families with friends from high income families are 15.2% more likely to expect to stay in full time education after they finish compulsory school. We find similar effects for the educational aspirations and expectations of middle income children. These effects are quantitatively and statistically significant, and robust to the inclusion of a wide range of control variables. We also show that friend’s mother’s aspirations matter too. Having friends whose mothers hope they will go to university increases the wish to carry on full time education by 30% points. This is conditional on the young person’s own mother’s aspirations for her/him.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 11/271.

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Length: 11 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:11/271

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Keywords: Networks; Friendships; Aspirations; Adolescents; Income; Education.;

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  1. Heather E. Joshi & Andrew McCulloch, 2002. "Child development and family resources: Evidence from the second generation of the 1958 British birth cohort," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 283-304.
  2. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Schennach, Susanne, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," IZA Discussion Papers 4702, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Jeremy Clark & Bonggeun Kim & Richie Poulton & Barry Milne, 2006. "The role of low expectations in health and education investment and hazardous consumption," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1151-1172, November.
  4. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post-Secondary Schooling," IZA Discussion Papers 518, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Lorraine Dearden & Leslie McGranahan & Barbara Sianesi, 2004. "The Role of Credit Constraints in Educational Choices: Evidence from NCDS and BCS70," CEE Discussion Papers 0048, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  6. Leon Feinstein, 2003. "Inequality in the Early Cognitive Development of British Children in the 1970 Cohort," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 73-97, February.
  7. James J. Heckman, 2000. "Policies to Foster Human Capital," JCPR Working Papers 154, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  8. Mora, Toni & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2011. "Peer effects on high school aspirations: Evidence from a sample of close and not-so-close friends," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 575-581, August.
  9. Adele Atkinson & Simon Burgess & Paul Gregg & Carol Propper & Steven Proud, 2008. "The Impact of Classroom Peer Groups on Pupil GCSE Results," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/187, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
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