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

Listed author(s):
  • Anelli, Massimo

    ()

    (Bocconi University)

  • Peri, Giovanni

    ()

    (University of California, Davis)

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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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 9119.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2015
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9119
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  1. Victor Lavy & Analía Schlosser, 2007. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," NBER Working Papers 13292, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Thomas Buser & Muriel Niederle & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2014. "Gender, Competitiveness, and Career Choices," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(3), pages 1409-1447.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Nicole Schneeweis & Martina Zweimüller, 2009. "Girls, girls, girls: gender composition and female school choice," Economics working papers 2009-07, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  9. 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.
  10. Scott E. Carrell & Richard L. Fullerton & James E. West, 2009. "Does Your Cohort Matter? Measuring Peer Effects in College Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 439-464, 07.
  11. 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.
  12. Scott E. Carrell & Mark L. Hoekstra, 2008. "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone's Kids," NBER Working Papers 14246, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Booth, Alison L. & Nolen, Patrick J., 2009. "Choosing to Compete: How Different Are Girls and Boys?," IZA Discussion Papers 4027, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Scott E. Carrell & Marianne E. Page & James E. West, 2009. "Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap," NBER Working Papers 14959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
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