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Inside the 'Black Box' of Project Star: Estimation of Peer Effects Using Experimental Data

Author

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  • Boozer, Michael A.
  • Cacciola, Stephen E.

Abstract

The credible identification of endogenous peer group effects- i.e. social multiplier or feedback effects -has long eluded social scientists. We argue that such effects are most credibly identified by a randomly assigned social program which operates at differing intensities within and between peer groups. The data we use are from Project STAR, a class size reduction experiment conducted in Tennessee elementary schools. In these data, classes were comprised of varying fractions of students who had previously been exposed to the Small class treatment, creating class groupings of varying experimentally induced quality. We use this variation in class group quality to estimate the spillover effect. We find that when allowance is made for this 'feedback' effect of prior exposure to the Small class treatment, the peer effects account for much of the total experimental effects in the later grades, and the direct class size effects are rendered substantially smaller.

Suggested Citation

  • Boozer, Michael A. & Cacciola, Stephen E., 2001. "Inside the 'Black Box' of Project Star: Estimation of Peer Effects Using Experimental Data," Center Discussion Papers 28524, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:yaleeg:28524
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    File URL: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/28524/files/dp010832.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Krueger, Alan B & Whitmore, Diane M, 2001. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 1-28, January.
    2. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey Smith & Nancy Clements, 1997. "Making The Most Out Of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting For Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535.
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