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The Good, the Bad and the Average: Evidence on the Scale and Nature of Ability Peer Effects in Schools

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  • Victor Lavy
  • Olmo Silva
  • Felix Weinhardt

Abstract

In this paper, we study ability peer effects in secondary schools in England and identify which segments of the peer ability distribution drive the impact of peer quality on students‟ achievements. To do so, we use census data for four cohorts of pupils taking their age-14 national tests, and measure students‟ ability by their prior achievements at age-11. We employ a new identification strategy based on within-pupil regressions that exploit variation in achievements across the three compulsory subjects (English, Mathematics and Science) tested both at age-14 and age-11. We find significant and sizeable negative peer effects arising from bad peers at the very bottom of the ability distribution, but little evidence that average peer quality and very good peers significantly affect pupils‟ academic achievements. However, these results mask some significant heterogeneity along the gender dimension, with girls significantly benefiting from the presence of very academically bright peers, and boys marginally losing out.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15600.

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Date of creation: Dec 2009
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Publication status: published as The Good, The Bad and The Average: Evidence on Ability Peer Effects in Schools (with Olmo Silva and Felix Weinhardt), Journal of Labor Economics, April 2012
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15600

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  16. Oriana Bandiera & Valentino Larcinese & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Heterogeneous Class Size Effects: New Evidence from a Panel of University Students," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(549), pages 1365-1398, December.
  17. Robert Bifulco & Jason Fletcher & Stephen Ross, 2008. "The Effect of Classmate Characteristics on Individual Outcomes: Evidence from the Add Health," Working papers 2008-21, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2009.
  18. Anna Aizer, 2008. "Peer Effects and Human Capital Accumulation: the Externalities of ADD," NBER Working Papers 14354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Mark L. Hoekstra & Scott Carrell, 2008. "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone," Working Papers 343, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2008.
  20. Anderson, Michael L., 2008. "Multiple Inference and Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(484), pages 1481-1495.
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