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Rank Concerns, Peer Effects, and Ability Tracking in University. Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Marco Bertoni

    (Università di Padova)

  • Roberto Nisticò

    (Università di Napoli Federico II and CSEF)

Abstract

If relative rank within classes enhances student achievement, tracking will help low-ability students and may harm high achievers. Using data from a randomized experiment generating a wide range of support of group ability composition, we show that students with higher ordinal ability rank within groups have better academic outcomes. We use our flexible education production function and the ample support of the data to predict the effects of alternative grouping polices. When we unpack the mechanisms behind ability tracking, we show that rank and peer effects work in opposite directions in generating outcomes for low- and high-ability students.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Bertoni & Roberto Nisticò, 2018. "Rank Concerns, Peer Effects, and Ability Tracking in University. Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," CSEF Working Papers 506, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:sef:csefwp:506
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    File URL: http://www.csef.it/WP/wp506.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Scott E. Carrell & Bruce I. Sacerdote & James E. West, 2013. "From Natural Variation to Optimal Policy? The Importance of Endogenous Peer Group Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(3), pages 855-882, May.
    3. Bruce Sacerdote, 2014. "Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Peer Effects: Two Steps Forward?," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 253-272, August.
    4. 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.
    5. Adam S. Booij & Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2017. "Ability Peer Effects in University: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(2), pages 547-578.
    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. Richard Murphy & Felix Weinhardt, 2013. "The Importance of Rank Position," CEP Discussion Papers dp1241, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    8. Steve Cicala & Roland G. Fryer & Jörg L. Spenkuch, 2018. "Self-Selection and Comparative Advantage in Social Interactions," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 16(4), pages 983-1020.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bertoni, Marco & Nistico, Roberto, 2019. "Ordinal Rank and Peer Composition: Two Sides of the Same Coin?," IZA Discussion Papers 12789, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Nong, Huifu & Zhang, Qing & Zhu, Hongjia & Zhu, Rong, 2021. "Targeted Poverty Alleviation and Children's Academic Performance in China," IZA Discussion Papers 14674, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Ballatore, Rosario Maria & Paccagnella, Marco & Tonello, Marco, 2020. "Bullied because younger than my mates? The effect of age rank on victimisation at school," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    4. Yu, Han, 2020. "Am I the big fish? The effect of ordinal rank on student academic performance in middle school," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 176(C), pages 18-41.
    5. Ribas, Rafael P. & Sampaio, Breno & Trevisan, Giuseppe, 2020. "Short- and long-term effects of class assignment: Evidence from a flagship university in Brazil," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    ability tracking; rank concerns; peer effects.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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