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Peer Effects In Higher Education: Does The Field Of Study Matter?

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  • GIORGIO BRUNELLO
  • MARIA DE PAOLA
  • VINCENZO SCOPPA

Abstract

Does the peer effect vary with the field of study? Using data from a middle‐sized public university located in southern Italy and exploiting the random assignment of first‐year students to college accommodation, we find that roommate peer effects for freshmen enrolled in the hard sciences are positive and significantly larger than for freshmen enrolled in the humanities and social sciences. We present a simple theoretical model which suggests that the uncovered differences between fields in the size of the peer effect could plausibly be generated by between‐field variation in labor market returns, which affect optimal student effort. (JEL I21, Z13, J24)

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgio Brunello & Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2010. "Peer Effects In Higher Education: Does The Field Of Study Matter?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 621-634, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:ecinqu:v:48:y:2010:i:3:p:621-634
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1465-7295.2009.00235.x
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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