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The Effects of Peer Group Heterogeneity on the Production of Human Capital at West Point

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  • David S. Lyle

Abstract

Understanding how heterogeneity in peer group composition affects academic attainment has important implications for how schools organize students in group settings. The random assignment of cadets to companies at West Point affords an opportunity to investigate this issue empirically. Estimates of the impact of peer group heterogeneity in math SAT scores on freshmen-year academic performance reveals that more heterogeneous peer groups have positive effects on individual grades. High-ability peers account for most of the positive effect, while low-ability peers have no measureable effect. (JEL I23, J24, M54)

Suggested Citation

  • David S. Lyle, 2009. "The Effects of Peer Group Heterogeneity on the Production of Human Capital at West Point," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 69-84, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:4:p:69-84
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.4.69
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Stinebrickner, Ralph & Stinebrickner, Todd R., 2006. "What can be learned about peer effects using college roommates? Evidence from new survey data and students from disadvantaged backgrounds," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1435-1454, September.
    2. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    3. David J. Zimmerman, 2003. "Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 9-23, February.
    4. Benabou, R., 1992. "Heterogeneity, Stratification, and Growth," Working papers 93-4, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    5. 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.
    6. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
    7. David S. Lyle, 2007. "Estimating and Interpreting Peer and Role Model Effects from Randomly Assigned Social Groups at West Point," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 289-299, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • M54 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Labor Management

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