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Raising your sights: the impact of friendship networks on educational aspirations

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  • Simon Burgess
  • Marcela Umaña-Aponte

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Abstract

We use a unique longitudinal dataset on an adolescent friendship network to evaluate variations on educational aspirations of young people from disadvantaged and middle income backgrounds. We evaluate whether such people who have friends from wealthier backgrounds have higher aspirations than otherwise similar young people without such links. The results suggest that there are such effects. Individuals from low income families with friends from high income families are 15.2% more likely to expect to stay in full time education after they finish compulsory school. We find similar effects for the educational aspirations and expectations of middle income children. These effects are quantitatively and statistically significant, and robust to the inclusion of a wide range of control variables. We also show that friend’s mother’s aspirations matter too. Having friends whose mothers hope they will go to university increases the wish to carry on full time education by 30% points. This is conditional on the young person’s own mother’s aspirations for her/him.

Suggested Citation

  • Simon Burgess & Marcela Umaña-Aponte, 2011. "Raising your sights: the impact of friendship networks on educational aspirations," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/271, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:11/271
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    File URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/papers/2011/wp271.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James Heckman, 2011. "Policies to foster human capital," Educational Studies, Higher School of Economics, issue 3, pages 73-137.
    2. Pedro Carneiro & James J. Heckman, 2002. "The Evidence on Credit Constraints in Post--secondary Schooling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 705-734, October.
    3. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman & Susanne M. Schennach, 2010. "Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 883-931, May.
    4. Jeremy Clark & Bonggeun Kim & Richie Poulton & Barry Milne, 2006. "The role of low expectations in health and education investment and hazardous consumption," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1151-1172, November.
    5. Adele Atkinson & Simon Burgess & Paul Gregg & Carol Propper & Steven Proud, 2008. "The Impact of Classroom Peer Groups on Pupil GCSE Results," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 08/187, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    6. Mora, Toni & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2011. "Peer effects on high school aspirations: Evidence from a sample of close and not-so-close friends," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 575-581, August.
    7. Heather E. Joshi & Andrew McCulloch, 2002. "Child development and family resources: Evidence from the second generation of the 1958 British birth cohort," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(2), pages 283-304.
    8. Leon Feinstein, 2003. "Inequality in the Early Cognitive Development of British Children in the 1970 Cohort," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 70(277), pages 73-97, February.
    9. Dearden, Lorraine & McGranahan, Leslie & Sianesi, Barbara, 2004. "The role of credit constraints in educational choices: evidence from NCDS and BCS70," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19447, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Networks; Friendships; Aspirations; Adolescents; Income; Education.;

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • I3 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty

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