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Peers’ Composition Effects in the Short and in the Long Run: College Major, College Performance and Income

Listed author(s):
  • Massimo Anelli
  • Giovanni Peri

In this paper we use a newly constructed dataset following 30,000 Italian individuals from high school to labor market and we analyze whether the gender composition of peers in high school affected their choice of college major, their academic performance and their labor market income. We leverage the fact that the composition of high school classmates (peers), within school-cohort and teacher-group, was not chosen by the students and it was as good as random. We find that male students graduating from classes with at least 80% of male peers were more likely to choose “prevalently male†(PM) college majors (Economics, Business and Engineering). However, this higher propensity to enroll in PM majors faded away during college (through transfers and attrition) so that men from classes with at least 80% of male peers in high school did not have higher probability of graduating in PM majors. They had instead worse college performance and did not exhibit any difference in income or labor market outcomes after college. We do not find significant effects on women.

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File URL: ftp://ftp.dondena.unibocconi.it/WorkingPapers/Dondena_WP078.pdf
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Paper provided by "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi in its series Working Papers with number 078.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2015
Handle: RePEc:don:donwpa:078
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  1. Victor Lavy & Analía Schlosser, 2011. "Corrigendum: Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 268-268, July.
  2. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?," Discussion Papers 04-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  3. Hyunjoon Park & Jere R. Behrman & Jaesung Choi, 2012. "Do Single-Sex Schools Enhance Students’ STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Outcomes?," PIER Working Paper Archive 12-038, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  4. Joseph G. Altonji & Erica Blom & Costas Meghir, 2012. "Heterogeneity in Human Capital Investments: High School Curriculum, College Major, and Careers," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 4(1), pages 185-223, 07.
  5. Hyunjoon Park & Jere Behrman & Jaesung Choi, 2013. "Causal Effects of Single-Sex Schools on College Entrance Exams and College Attendance: Random Assignment in Seoul High Schools," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(2), pages 447-469, April.
  6. Jonathan Guryan & Kory Kroft & Matt Notowidigdo, 2007. "Peer Effects in the Workplace: Evidence from Random Groupings in Professional Golf Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 13422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Scott E. Carrell & Mark L. Hoekstra, 2010. "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone's Kids," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 211-228, January.
  8. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2010. "Explaining the Gender Gap in Math Test Scores: The Role of Competition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 129-144, Spring.
  9. Sarah E. Turner & William G. Bowen, 1999. "Choice of Major: The Changing (Unchanging) Gender Gap," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 52(2), pages 289-313, January.
  10. Nicole Schneeweis & Martina Zweimüller, 2009. "Girls, girls, girls: gender composition and female school choice," NRN working papers 2009-05, The Austrian Center for Labor Economics and the Analysis of the Welfare State, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  11. Booth, Alison L & Cardona Sosa, Lina & Nolen, Patrick, 2014. "Do Single-Sex Classes Affect Achievement? An Experiment in a Coeducational University," CEPR Discussion Papers 10221, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Billger, Sherrilyn M., 2009. "On reconstructing school segregation: The efficacy and equity of single-sex schooling," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 393-402, June.
  13. Sherrilyn Billger, 2002. "Admitting men into a women's college: A natural experiment," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(7), pages 479-483.
  14. Scott E. Carrell & Marianne E. Page & James E. West, 2010. "Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1101-1144.
  15. 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.
  16. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
  17. Thomas Buser & Muriel Niederle & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2012. "Gender, Competitiveness and Career Choices," NBER Working Papers 18576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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