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Class Assignment and Peer Group Effects: Evidence from Brazilian Primary Schools


  • Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner



Students in Brazil are typically assigned to classes based on their age ranking in their school grade. I exploit this rule to estimate the effects on maths achievement of being in a class with older peers for students in fifth grade of primary school. Because grade repetition is widespread in Brazil, the distribution of age is skewed to the right and hence age heterogeneity is typically higher in older classes. I provide evidence that heterogeneity in age is the driving factor behind the large negative estimated effect of being in an older class. Information on teaching practices and student behaviour sheds light on how class heterogeneity harms learning.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Foureaux Koppensteiner, 2012. "Class Assignment and Peer Group Effects: Evidence from Brazilian Primary Schools," Discussion Papers in Economics 12/03, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
  • Handle: RePEc:lec:leecon:12/03

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2016. "First in the Class? Age and the Education Production Function," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 11(3), pages 225-250, Summer.
    2. repec:pit:wpaper:343 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-1774, August.
    4. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Social Incentives in the Workplace," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 417-458.
    5. Ammermüller, Andreas & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2006. "Peer Effects in European Primary Schools: Evidence from PIRLS," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-027, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    6. Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson & David Pozen, 2009. "Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 105-147.
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    Cited by:

    1. Benjamin Elsner & Ingo E. Isphording, 2017. "A Big Fish in a Small Pond: Ability Rank and Human Capital Investment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(3), pages 787-828.

    More about this item


    Peer effects; regression discontinuity; educational production; group heterogeneity.;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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