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Peer Effects in Higher Education: Does the Field of Study Matter?

Author

Listed:
  • Giorgio Brunello

    () (University di Padova)

  • Maria De Paola

    (University of Calabria)

  • Vincenzo Scoppa

    (University of Calabria)

Abstract

Does the peer effect vary with the field of study? Using data from a middle-sized public university located in Southern Italy and exploiting the random assignment of first year students to college accommodation, we find that roommate peer effects for freshmen enrolled in the Hard Sciences are positive and significantly larger than for freshmen enrolled in the Humanities and Social Sciences. We present a simple theoretical model which suggests that the uncovered differences between fields in the size of the peer effect could plausibly be generated by between-field variation in labor market returns, which affect optimal student effort.

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgio Brunello & Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2009. "Peer Effects in Higher Education: Does the Field of Study Matter?," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0092, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
  • Handle: RePEc:pad:wpaper:0092
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters,in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Stinebrickner, Ralph & Stinebrickner, Todd R., 2006. "What can be learned about peer effects using college roommates? Evidence from new survey data and students from disadvantaged backgrounds," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1435-1454, September.
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    13. Bratti, Massimiliano & Checchi, Daniele & Filippin, Antonio, 2007. "Territorial Differences in Italian Students’ Mathematical Competencies: Evidence from PISA 2003," IZA Discussion Papers 2603, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    peer effects; effort; fields of study; random assignment; Italy;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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