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Persistent Classmates: How Familiarity with Peers Protects from Disruptive School Transitions

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  • Son Thierry Ly

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - École normale supérieure [ENS] - Paris - Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA), EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris)

  • Arnaud Riegert

    (PSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS : UMR8545 - École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - École des Ponts ParisTech (ENPC) - École normale supérieure [ENS] - Paris - Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA), EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, INSEE - Institut National de la Statistique et des Etudes Economiques - INSEE)

Abstract

Students' social networks are deeply disrupted during school transitions and students start in a classroom environment where almost all their peers are new. In this study, we investigate the consequences of keeping partly the same classmates during the transition to high school. To overcome the issue of endogenous selection across classes, we exploit rare natural experiment settings in which students are plausibly randomly allocated to classes within high schools. Two estimation strategies are presented and provide the same results. We find that each classmate who was already in a student's class in the last grade of middle school reduces substantially the risk of grade retention in 10th grade, but also in following grades. For low-ability students, the effect amounts to minus 1 percentage point per "persistent classmate", without increasing the risk of dropping out. A number of robustness checks are provided. By analyzing the distribution of the effect, we show that it is the strongest for students who are the most likely to experience a difficult transition, i.e. low-ability, low-SES students from low-quality middle schools. The underlying mechanisms are examined. Our results suggest that grouping students who already know each other during school transitions would constitute an efficient, no-cost policy lever to improve overall achievement and equality in high schools.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HAL in its series PSE Working Papers with number halshs-00842265.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:hal:psewpa:halshs-00842265

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Related research

Keywords: Friendships ; Social Networks ; High schools ; Class composition ; Peer effects;

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References

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  1. Sergio Currarini & Matthew O. Jackson & Paolo Pin, 2009. "An Economic Model of Friendship: Homophily, Minorities, and Segregation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1003-1045, 07.
  2. Schwerdt, Guido & West, Martin R., 2013. "The impact of alternative grade configurations on student outcomes through middle and high school," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 308-326.
  3. Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2008. "What Is a Peer? The Role of Network Definitions in Estimation of Endogenous Peer Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 3335, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Victor Lavy & Edith Sand, 2012. "The Friends Factor: How Students’ Social Networks Affect Their Academic Achievement and Well-Being?," NBER Working Papers 18430, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Foster, Gigi, 2006. "It's not your peers, and it's not your friends: Some progress toward understanding the educational peer effect mechanism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1455-1475, September.
  7. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian A Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2006. "The Effect of School Choice on Participants: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1191-1230, 09.
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Cited by:
  1. Goux, Dominique & Gurgand, Marc & Maurin, Eric, 2014. "Adjusting Your Dreams? The Effect of School and Peers on Dropout Behaviour," IZA Discussion Papers 7948, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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