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Does the Rotten Child Spoil His Companion? Spatial Peer Effects Among Children in Rural India


  • Christian Helmers
  • Manasa Patnam


This paper identifies the effect of neighborhood peer groups on childhood skill acquisition using observational data. We incorporate spatial peer interaction, defined as a child’s nearest geographical neighbors, into a production function of child cognitive development in Andhra Pradesh, India. Our peer group construction takes the form of directed networks, whose structure allows us to identify peer effects and enables us to disentangle endogenous effects from contextual effects. We exploit variation over time to avoid confounding correlated with social effects. Our results suggest that spatial peer and neighborhood effects are strongly positively associated with a child’s cognitive skill formation. These peer effects hold even when we consider an alternative IV-based identification strategy and different variations to network size. Further, we find that the presence of peer groups helps provide insurance against the negative impact of idiosyncratic shocks to child learning.

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  • Christian Helmers & Manasa Patnam, 2010. "Does the Rotten Child Spoil His Companion? Spatial Peer Effects Among Children in Rural India," CSAE Working Paper Series 2010-13, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2010-13

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    Cited by:

    1. Patacchini, Eleonora & Venanzoni, Giuseppe, 2014. "Peer effects in the demand for housing quality," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 6-17.
    2. Gibbons, Steve & Overman, Henry G. & Patacchini, Eleonora, 2015. "Spatial Methods," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    3. Tapsuwan, Sorada & Polyakov, Maksym & Bark, Rosalind & Nolan, Martin, 2015. "Valuing the Barmah–Millewa Forest and in stream river flows: A spatial heteroskedasticity and autocorrelation consistent (SHAC) approach," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 98-105.
    4. Topa, Giorgio & Zenou, Yves, 2015. "Neighborhood and Network Effects," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    5. Bet Caeyers, 2014. "Peer effects in development programme awareness of vulnerable groups in rural Tanzania," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-11, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    6. Tisorn Songsermsawas & Kathy Baylis & Ashwini Chhatre & Hope Michelson, 2014. "Can Peers Improve Agricultural Productivity?," CESifo Working Paper Series 4958, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Songsermsawas, Tisorn & Baylis, Kathy & Chhatre, Ashwini & Michelson, Hope, 2016. "Can Peers Improve Agricultural Revenue?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 163-178.
    8. Bet Caeyers, 2014. "Exclusion bias in empirical social interaction models: causes, consequences and solutions," CSAE Working Paper Series 2014-05, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    9. Songsermsawas, Tisorn & Baylis, Kathy & Chhatre, Ashwini & Michelson, Hope & Prasanna, Satya, 2015. "Friends or traders? Do social networks explain the use of market mechanisms by farmers in India," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211206, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    10. repec:oxf:wpaper:wps/2014-05 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. José-Alberto Guerra & Myra Mohnen, 2017. "Multinomial choice with social interactions: occupations in Victorian London," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 015667, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    12. Baylis, Katherine R. & Paulson, Nicholas D. & Piras, Gianfranco, 2011. "Spatial Approaches to Panel Data in Agricultural Economics: A Climate Change Application," Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Southern Agricultural Economics Association, vol. 43(03), August.
    13. repec:oxf:wpaper:wps/2014-11 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Children; peer effects; cognitive skills; India;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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