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Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Peer Effects: Two Steps Forward?

Author

Listed:
  • Bruce Sacerdote

    () (Department of Economics, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755
    National Bureau of Economic Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138)

Abstract

In the past 10 years, there has been an explosion of well-identified studies that measure peer effects across many settings and for many outcomes. The emphasis on natural experiments and randomization is a highly useful one; in more standard observational studies, the self-selection of people into peer groups can make the measurement of peer effects extremely difficult. In the absence of exogenous variation, knowing that people have similar outcomes as their friends, classmates, and coworkers may tell us little about peer effects. I examine the successes, failures, and findings of experimental analyses of peer effects. I draw three broad conclusions. First, even more than in other areas of social science, the size and nature of peer effects estimated are highly context specific; peer effects in student test scores and grades are prominent in some cases and absent in others. That said, there is a pattern across studies suggesting that social outcomes (e.g., crime, drinking behavior) and career choices show larger peer influences than do test scores. Second, researchers have shown that the linear-in-means model of peer effects is often not a good description of the world, although we do not yet have an agreed-upon model to replace it. Third, despite potential temptation, we have not reached the point at which we can reliably use knowledge of peer effects to implement policies that improve outcomes for students and other human subjects.

Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Sacerdote, 2014. "Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Peer Effects: Two Steps Forward?," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 253-272, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:6:y:2014:p:253-272
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Paul Frijters & Asadul Islam & Debayan Pakrashi, 2016. "Can we select the right peers in Indian Education? Evidence from Kolkata," Monash Economics Working Papers 39-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    2. Brodaty, Thibault & Gurgand, Marc, 2016. "Good peers or good teachers? Evidence from a French University," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 62-78.
    3. Del Bello, Carlo L. & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2015. "Neighborhood Effects in Education," IZA Discussion Papers 8956, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Ioannides, Yannis M., 2015. "Neighborhoods to nations via social interactions," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 5-15.
    5. Rucker C. Johnson & C. Kirabo Jackson, 2017. "Reducing Inequality Through Dynamic Complementarity: Evidence from Head Start and Public School Spending," NBER Working Papers 23489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Kazushi Takahashi & Yukichi Mano & Keijiro Otsuka, 2018. "Spillovers as a Driver to Reduce Ex-post Inequality Generated by Randomized Experiments: Evidence from an Agricultural Training Intervention," Working Papers 174, JICA Research Institute.
    7. Kondo, Ayako & Shoji, Masahiro, 2016. "Peer Effects in Employment Status: Evidence from Housing Lotteries for Forced Evacuees in Fukushima," IZA Discussion Papers 9708, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Yann Algan & Quoc-Anh Do & Nicolò Dalvit & Alexis Le Chapelain & Yves Zenou, 2015. "How Social Networks Shape Our Beliefs: A Natural Experiment among Future French Politicians," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/78vacv4udu9, Sciences Po.
    9. repec:iza:izawol:journl:2018:n:440 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Hahn, Youjin & Islam, Asadul & Patacchini, Eleonora & Zenou, Yves, 2015. "Network Structure and Education Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Bangladesh," IZA Discussion Papers 8872, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. repec:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:2:p:582-597 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Jonathan Smith & Kevin Stange, 2016. "A New Measure of College Quality to Study the Effects of College Sector and Peers on Degree Attainment," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(4), pages 369-403, Fall.
    13. Marco Bertoni & Roberto Nisticò, 2018. "Rank Concerns, Peer Effects, and Ability Tracking in University. Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," CSEF Working Papers 506, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    14. repec:eee:deveco:v:128:y:2017:i:c:p:24-48 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Youjin Hahn & Asadul Islam & Eleonora Patacchini & Yves Zenou, 2015. "Teams, Organization and Education Outcomes: Evidence from a field experiment in Bangladesh," Monash Economics Working Papers 35-15, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    16. Adam S. Booij & Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2017. "Ability Peer Effects in University: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 547-578.
    17. repec:taf:edecon:v:25:y:2017:i:1:p:3-21 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Patacchini, Eleonora & Rainone, Edoardo & Zenou, Yves, 2017. "Heterogeneous peer effects in education," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 190-227.
    19. SHIMAMOTO Daichi & TODO Yasuyuki & Yu Ri KIM & Petr MATOUS, 2016. "Identifying and Decomposing Peer Effects on Participation Decisions Using a Randomized Controlled Trial," Discussion papers 16083, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    20. Chen, Ying-Ju & Zenou, Yves & Zhou, Junjie, 2015. "Multiple Activities for Socially-Connected Criminals," CEPR Discussion Papers 10709, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Daichi Shimamoto & Yasuyuki Todo & Yu Ri Kim & Petr Matous, 2017. "Identifying and Decomposing Peer Effects on Decision-Making Using a Randomized Controlled Trial," Working Papers 1704, Waseda University, Faculty of Political Science and Economics.
    22. Olugbenga Ajilore & Gayle Alberda, 2017. "Peer Effects and Political Participation: What is the Role of Coursework Clusters?," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 47(1), pages 47-62, Winter.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social interactions in education;

    JEL classification:

    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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