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O brother, where start thou? Sibling spillovers on college and major choice in four countries

Author

Listed:
  • Adam Altmejd
  • Andrés Barrios Fernandez
  • Marin Drlje
  • Joshua Goodman
  • Michael Hurwitz
  • Dejan Kovac
  • Christine Mulhern
  • Christopher Neilson
  • Jonathan Smith

Abstract

Family and social networks are widely believed to influence important life decisions but identifying their causal effects is notoriously difficult. Using admissions thresholds that directly affect older but not younger siblings' college options, we present evidence from the United States, Chile, Sweden and Croatia that older siblings' college and major choices can significantly influence their younger siblings' college and major choices. On the extensive margin, an older sibling's enrollment in a better college increases a younger sibling's probability of enrolling in college at all, especially for families with low predicted probabilities of enrollment. On the intensive margin, an older sibling's choice of college or major increases the probability that a younger sibling applies to and enrolls in that same college or major. Spillovers in major choice are stronger when older siblings enroll and succeed in more selective and higher-earning majors. The observed spillovers are not well-explained by price, income, proximity or legacy effects, but are most consistent with older siblings transmitting otherwise unavailable information about the college experience and its potential returns. The importance of such personally salient information may partly explain persistent differences in college-going rates by geography, income, and other determinants of social networks.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam Altmejd & Andrés Barrios Fernandez & Marin Drlje & Joshua Goodman & Michael Hurwitz & Dejan Kovac & Christine Mulhern & Christopher Neilson & Jonathan Smith, 2020. "O brother, where start thou? Sibling spillovers on college and major choice in four countries," CEP Discussion Papers dp1691, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1691
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    Cited by:

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    2. Peter Andre, 2021. "Shallow Meritocracy: An Experiment on Fairness Views," ECONtribute Discussion Papers Series 115, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    3. Aguirre, Josefa & Matta, Juan, 2021. "Walking in your footsteps: Sibling spillovers in higher education choices," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).
    4. Gordon B. Dahl & Dan-Olof Rooth & Anders Stenberg, 2020. "Intergenerational and Sibling Peer Effects in High School Majors," NBER Working Papers 27618, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Gurantz, Oded & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan, 2020. "Sibling effects on high school exam taking and performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 534-549.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    sibling effects; college and major choice; peer and social network effects;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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