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The Relationship Between Siblings? College Choices: Evidence from One Million SAT?Taking Families

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  • Joshua Goodman
  • Michael Hurwitz
  • Jonathan Smith
  • Julia Fox

Abstract

Recent empirical work has demonstrated the importance both of educational peer effects and of various factors that affect college choices. We connect these literatures by highlighting a previously unstudied determinant of college choice, namely the college choice made by one?s older sibling. Data on 1.6 million sibling pairs of SAT-takers reveals that younger and older siblings? choices are very closely related. One-fifth of younger siblings enroll in the same college as their older siblings. Compared to their high school classmates of similar academic skill and with observably similar families, younger siblings are about 15-20 percentage points more likely to enroll in four-year colleges or highly competitive colleges if their older siblings do so first. These findings vary little by family characteristics. Younger siblings are more likely to follow the college choices of their older siblings the more they resemble each other in terms of academic skill, age and gender. We discuss channels through which older siblings? college choices might causally influence their younger siblings, noting that the facts documented here should prompt further research on the sharing of information and shaping of educational preferences within families.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua Goodman & Michael Hurwitz & Jonathan Smith & Julia Fox, "undated". "The Relationship Between Siblings? College Choices: Evidence from One Million SAT?Taking Families," Working Paper 175231, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  • Handle: RePEc:qsh:wpaper:175231
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    Cited by:

    1. Walker, Ian & Zhu, Yu, 2017. "University Selectivity and the Graduate Wage Premium: Evidence from the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 10536, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Walker, Ian & Zhu, Yu, 2018. "University selectivity and the relative returns to higher education: Evidence from the UK," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 230-249.
    3. Altmejd, Adam & Barrios-Fernandez, Andres & Drlje, Marin & Goodman, Joshua & Hurwitz, Michael & Kovac, Dejan & Mulhern, Christine & Neilson, Christopher & Smith, Jonathan, 2020. "O brother, where start thou? Sibling spillovers on college and major choice in four countries," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 108440, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. Adam Altmejd & Andrés Barrios-Fernández & Marin Drlje & Joshua Goodman & Michael Hurwitz & Dejan Kovac & Christine Mulhern & Christopher Neilson & Jonathan Smith, 2021. "O Brother, Where Start Thou? Sibling Spillovers on College and Major Choice in Four Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 136(3), pages 1831-1886.
    5. Milla, Joniada, 2017. "The Context-Bound University Selectivity Premium," IZA Discussion Papers 11025, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    6. Yuval Mazar & Uri Zilber, 2019. "Brothers vs. Sisters: The Effect of Siblings' Gender on an Individual's Labor Market Performance," Bank of Israel Working Papers 2019.16, Bank of Israel.
    7. Joshua S. Goodman & Michael Hurwitz & Christine Mulhern & Jonathan Smith, 2019. "O Brother, Where Start Thou? Sibling-Spillovers in College Enrollment," CESifo Working Paper Series 7974, CESifo.
    8. Gurantz, Oded & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan, 2020. "Sibling effects on high school exam taking and performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 534-549.
    9. Christopher Neilson & Adam Altmejd & Andres Barrios-Fernandez & Marin Drlje & Dejan Kovac, 2019. "Siblings' Effects on College and Major Choices: Evidence from Chile, Croatia and Sweden," Working Papers 633, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    10. Aguirre, Josefa & Matta, Juan, 2021. "Walking in your footsteps: Sibling spillovers in higher education choices," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).
    11. Dustan, Andrew, 2018. "Family networks and school choice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 372-391.
    12. Christopher Neilson & Adam Altmejd & Andres Barrios-Fernandez & Marin Drlje & Dejan Kovac, 2020. "Siblings' Effects on College and Major Choices: Evidence from Chile, Croatia and Sweden," Working Papers 633a, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    13. Henriques, Paulo Lopes & Matos, Pedro Verga & Jerónimo, Helena Mateus & Mosquera, Pilar & da Silva, Filipa Pires & Bacalhau, João, 2018. "University or polytechnic? A fuzzy-set approach of prospective students' choice and its implications for higher education institutions' managers," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 435-441.
    14. Nifo, Annamaria & Scalera, Domenico & Vecchione, Gaetano, 2016. "What do you want to be when you grow up? Local institutional quality and the choice of the fields of study in Italy (2004-2007)," MPRA Paper 69907, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • D19 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Other
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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