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Inside the 'Black Box' of Project STAR: Estimation of Peer Effects Using Experimental Data

  • Michael A. Boozer

    ()

    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • Stephen E. Cacciola
Registered author(s):

    The credible identification of endogenous peer group effects -- i.e. social multiplier or feedback effects -- has long eluded social scientists. We argue that such effects are most credibly identified by a randomly assigned social program which operates at differing intensities within and between peer groups. The data we use are from Project STAR, a class size reduction experiment conducted in Tennessee elementary schools. In these data, classes were comprised of varying fractions of students who had previously been exposed to the Small class treatment, creating class groupings of varying experimentally induced quality. We use this variation in class group quality to estimate the spillover effect. We find that when allowance is made for this 'feedback' effect of prior exposure to the Small class treatment, the peer effects account for much of the total experimental effects in the later grades, and the direct class size effects are rendered substantially smaller.

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    File URL: http://www.econ.yale.edu/growth_pdf/cdp832.pdf
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    Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 832.

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    Length: 68 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2001
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:832
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    1. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. James J. Heckman, 1991. "Randomization and Social Policy Evaluation," NBER Technical Working Papers 0107, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
    4. Heckman, James J & Smith, Jeffrey, 1997. "Making the Most Out of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting for Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535, October.
    5. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects With Random Assignment: Results For Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704, May.
    6. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Educational Production," NBER Working Papers 7349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Timothy G. Conley & Christopher R. Udry, 2005. "Learning about a new technology: pineapple in Ghana," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    8. Alan Krueger & Diane Whitmore, 2000. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," NBER Working Papers 7656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Eric A. Hanushek, . "The Evidence on Class Size," Wallis Working Papers WP10, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
    10. George A. Akerlof, 1997. "Social Distance and Social Decisions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1005-1028, September.
    11. Tomas J. Philipson, 2000. "External Treatment Effects and Program Implementation Bias," NBER Technical Working Papers 0250, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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