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The Effect of Classmate Characteristics on Individual Outcomes: Evidence from the Add Health

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Author Info

  • Robert Bifulco

    (Syracuse University)

  • Jason Fletcher

    (Yale University)

  • Stephen Ross

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

We use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) to examine the effects of classmate characteristics on economic and social outcomes of students. The unique structure of the Add Health allows us to estimate these effects using comparisons across cohorts within schools, and to examine a wider range of outcomes than other studies that have used this identification strategy. This strategy yields variation in cohort composition that is uncorrelated with student observables suggesting that our estimates are not biased by the selection of students into schools or grades based on classmate characteristics. We find that increases in the percent of classmates whose mother is college educated has significant, desirable effects on educational attainment and substance use. We do not find much evidence that the percent of classmates who are black or Hispanic has significant effects on individual outcomes, on average. Additional analyses suggest, however, that an increase in the percent black or Hispanic may increase dropout rates among black students and post-high school idleness among males.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2008-21.

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Length: 49 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision: Jan 2009
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2008-21

Note: This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by a grant P01-HD31921 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 (addhealth@unc.edu). The authors would like to thank Joseph Altonji, Barry Hirsch, Erdal Tekin, Spencer Banzhaf, and Tom Downes who provided comments on the work presented here, as well as participants at the Syracuse University education policy seminar, the Tufts economics department seminar, the Yale labor economics lunch, and the Georgia State University labor/health economics seminar.
Contact details of provider:
Postal: University of Connecticut 341 Mansfield Road, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
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Keywords: Education; Peer Effects; Cohort Study; Substance Abuse;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Stephen L. Ross, 2009. "Social Interactions within Cities: Neighborhood Environments and Peer Relationships," Working papers 2009-31, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  2. Victor Lavy & M. Daniele Paserman & Analia Schlosser, 2008. "Inside the Black of Box of Ability Peer Effects: Evidence from Variation in the Proportion of Low Achievers in the Classroom," NBER Working Papers 14415, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Onur Ozgur & Alberto Bisin, 2011. "Dynamic linear economies with social interactions," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000036, David K. Levine.
  4. Ficano, Carlena Cochi, 2012. "Peer effects in college academic outcomes – Gender matters!," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1102-1115.
  5. Yannis M. Ioannides & Giorgio Topa, 2009. "Neighborhood Effects: Accomplishments and Looking Beyond Them," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 0736, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
  6. Jason M. Fletcher, 2010. "Social interactions and smoking: evidence using multiple student cohorts, instrumental variables, and school fixed effects," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 466-484.
  7. Robert Bifulco & Delia Furtado & Stephen L. Ross, 2009. "Why Are Ghettos Bad? Examining the Role of the Metropolitan Educational Environment," Working papers 2009-30, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  8. Victor Lavy & Olmo Silva & Felix Weinhardt, 2009. "The Good, the Bad and the Average: Evidence on the Scale and Nature of Ability Peer Effects in Schools," NBER Working Papers 15600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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