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Peer Heterogeneity, Parental Background and Tracking: Evidence from PISA 2006

The empirical literature using large international students’ assessments tends to neglect the role of school composition variables in order not to incur in a misidentification of peer effects. However, this leads to an error of higher logical type since the learning environment crucially depends on peers’ family background and on peer heterogeneity. In this paper, using PISA 2006, we show how peer heterogeneity is a key determinant of student attainment and of opportunity equalization. Interestingly, the effect of school compositional variables differs depending on the country tracking policy: peer heterogeneity reduces efficiency in comprehensive systems whereas it has a non-linear impact in early-tracking ones. In turn, linear peer effects are larger in early-tracking systems. Besides, higher heterogeneity tends to equalize student differences related to family background. Results do not change in school- and student-level regressions suggesting that the impact of heterogeneity is correctly identified. Results are also robust when we add school-level dummies and several controls correlated with the school choice to alleviate the selectivity bias of linear peer effects.

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Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2010-23.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:1023
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  1. Entorf, Horst & Lauk, Martina, 2007. "Peer effects, social multipliers and migrants at school: An international comparison," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 57, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
  2. James Heckman & Pedro Carneiro, 2003. "Human Capital Policy," NBER Working Papers 9495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  4. Andreas Ammermueller & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2006. "Peer Effects in European Primary Schools: Evidence from PIRLS," CEE Discussion Papers 0065, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  5. de Bartolome, Charles A M, 1990. "Equilibrium and Inefficiency in a Community Model with Peer Group Effects," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 110-33, February.
  6. Fertig, Michael, 2003. "Educational Production, Endogenous Peer Group Formation and Class Composition - Evidence from the PISA 2000 Study," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 76, Royal Economic Society.
  7. Epple, Dennis & Newlon, Elizabeth & Romano, Richard, 2002. "Ability tracking, school competition, and the distribution of educational benefits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-48, January.
  8. John Bishop & Ludger Wossmann, 2004. "Institutional Effects in a Simple Model of Educational Production," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 17-38.
  9. McEwan, Patrick J., 2003. "Peer effects on student achievement: evidence from Chile," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 131-141, April.
  10. Schneeweis, Nicole & Winter-Ebmer, Rudolf, 2005. "Peer Effects in Austrian Schools," Economics Series 170, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  11. Thomas Fuchs & Ludger Wößmann, 2007. "What accounts for international differences in student performance? A re-examination using PISA data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 433-464, May.
  12. Epple, Dennis & Romano, Richard E, 1998. "Competition between Private and Public Schools, Vouchers, and Peer-Group Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 33-62, March.
  13. V. Vandenberghe, 2002. "Evaluating the magnitude and the stakes of peer effects analysing science and math achievement across OECD," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(10), pages 1283-1290.
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