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Ability tracking or comprehensive schooling? A theory on peer effects in competitive and non-competitive cultures

Listed author(s):
  • Thiemann, Kathrin
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    We develop a model of student decision making that shows that it depends on the culture of competitiveness in a country or region whether it is optimal to choose a school design with ability tracking or comprehensive schooling. Students with different cultural background differ in their concern for relative position in the classroom, which is modeled by reference-dependent preferences. We contrast competitive cultures, where students compare their performance with the best performance in class, and non-competitive cultures where the reference point is the average performance. Taking into account students with heterogeneous abilities, we show that the average performance in competitive cultures is maximized under comprehensive schooling and in non-competitive cultures under ability tracking. Segregation of abilities, however, always leads to a higher dispersion of performances.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167268117300641
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

    Volume (Year): 137 (2017)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 214-231

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:214-231
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.03.005
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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    1. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wössmann, 2006. "Does Educational Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences- in-Differences Evidence Across Countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(510), pages 63-76, 03.
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    7. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List & Susanne Neckermann & Sally Sadoff, 2016. "The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 183-219, November.
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    9. Foster, Gigi & Frijters, Paul, 2010. "Students' beliefs about peer effects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 260-263, September.
    10. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1991. "Loss Aversion in Riskless Choice: A Reference-Dependent Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1039-1061.
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