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Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School

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  • Victor Lavy
  • Analía Schlosser

Abstract

The consequences of gender social and learning interactions in the classroom are of interest to parents, policy makers, and researchers. However, little is known about gender peer effects in schools and their operational channels. In this paper, we estimate the effects of classroom gender composition on scholastic achievements of boys and girls in Israeli primary, middle, and high schools and identify the mechanisms through which these peer effects are enacted. In particular, we examine whether gender peer effects work through changes in classroom learning and social environment, teaching methods and pedagogy, and teacher burnout and work satisfaction. In assessing these mechanisms, we distinguish between the effects generated by changes in the classroom gender composition and those generated by changes in the behavior of students. To control for potentially confounding unobserved characteristics of schools and students that might be correlated with peer gender composition, we rely on idiosyncratic variations in gender composition across adjacent cohorts within the same schools. Our results suggest that an increase in the proportion of girls leads to a significant improvement in students' cognitive outcomes. The estimated effects are of similar magnitude for boys and girls. As important mechanisms, we find that a higher proportion of female peers lowers the level of classroom disruption and violence, improves inter-student and student-teacher relationships as well as students' overall satisfaction in school, and lessens teachers' fatigue. We find, however, no effect on individual behavior of boys or girls, which suggests that the positive peer effects of girls on classroom environment are due mostly to compositional change, namely due to having more girls in the classroom and not due to improved behavior of peers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13292.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Publication status: published as Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2011. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-33, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13292

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  1. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman & Lawrence F. Katz, 2005. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," NBER Working Papers 11577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2005. "Targeted Remedial Education for Underperforming Teenagers: Costs and Benefits," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 839-874, October.
  3. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2009. "The Effects of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1384-1414, September.
  5. Mitchell A. Petersen, 2005. "Estimating Standard Errors in Finance Panel Data Sets: Comparing Approaches," NBER Working Papers 11280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Gould, Eric D & Lavy, Victor & Paserman, Marco Daniele, 2005. "Does Immigration Affect the Long-Term Educational Outcomes of Natives? Quasi-Experimental Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 5439, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Andreas Ammermueller & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Peer Effects in European Primary Schools: Evidence from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 315-348, 07.
  8. Angrist, Joshua & Lang, Kevin, 2004. "Does School Integration Generate Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program," IZA Discussion Papers 976, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Steve Gibbons & Shqiponja Telhaj, 2006. "Peer Effects and Pupil Attainment: Evidence from Secondary School Transition," CEE Discussion Papers 0063, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  10. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  11. Kling, Jeffrey & Liebman, Jeffrey, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Paper Series rwp04-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  12. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation Of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599, May.
  13. Jeffrey R. Kling & B. Jeffrey Liebman, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Papers 862, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  14. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor, 2004. "The Effect of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a School-Centered Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 1146, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. 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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