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The Impact of Classroom Peer Groups on Pupil GCSE Results

  • Adele Atkinson
  • Simon Burgess
  • Paul Gregg
  • Carol Propper
  • Steven Proud


The effect of a more able peer group on a child’s attainment is considered an integral part in estimating a pupil level educational production function. Examinations in England at age 16 are tiered according to ability, leading to a large stratification of pupils by ability. However, within tiers, there is a range of policies between schools regarding setting, ranging from credibly random to strict setting by results from examinations at age 14. We use this variation to estimate ordinary least squares (OLS) estimates, with school and teacher fixed effects, of the effect of a more able peer group using a subset of schools that has apparently random allocation of pupils. As a robustness test of the apparently random setting results, we use an instrumental variables (IV) methodology developed by Lefgren (2004b). We find significant, positive, and non-trivial effects of a more able peer group using both the OLS and IV estimations for English and mathematics.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 08/187.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:08/187
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  1. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Gordon C. Winston & David J. Zimmerman, 2003. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Working Papers 9501, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    • Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Angrist, Joshua & Lang, Kevin, 2004. "Does School Integration Generate Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program," IZA Discussion Papers 976, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Mary A. Burke & Tim R. Sass, 2013. "Classroom Peer Effects and Student Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 51 - 82.
  5. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2004. "College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number hoxb04-1, July.
  6. Simon Burgess & Brendon McConnell & Carol Propper & Deborah Wilson, 2004. "Sorting and Choice in English Secondary Schools," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 04/111, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  7. Henderson, Vernon & Mieszkowski, Peter & Sauvageau, Yvon, 1978. "Peer group effects and educational production functions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 97-106, August.
  8. Atkinson, Adele & Burgess, Simon & Croxson, Bronwyn & Gregg, Paul & Propper, Carol & Slater, Helen & Wilson, Deborah, 2009. "Evaluating the impact of performance-related pay for teachers in England," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 251-261, June.
  9. Lefgren, Lars, 2004. "Educational peer effects and the Chicago public schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 169-191, September.
  10. 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.
  11. Donald Robertson & James Symons, 2003. "Do Peer Groups Matter? Peer Group versus Schooling Effects on Academic Attainment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 31-53, February.
  12. Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," NBER Working Papers 7469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Dills, Angela K., 2005. "Does cream-skimming curdle the milk? A study of peer effects," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 19-28, February.
  14. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2011. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-33, April.
  15. Manski, C.F., 1991. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: the Reflection Problem," Working papers 9127, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  16. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  17. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
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