The Impact of Immigrant Peers on Natives’ School Outcomes. A ‘Family-Fixed Effects’ Design Applied to Administrative Data

Davide Azzolini , FBK-IRVAPP
Simone Schueller, FBK-IRVAPP and IZA
Loris Vergolini, FBK-IRVAPP

The aim of this paper is to establish the causal impact of immigrant concentration in school on educational outcomes in the Province of Trento (North-East of Italy). This setting allows us exploiting a rich administrative dataset on several cohorts of students attending primary and secondary education in the area. We look at both school marks, test scores and upper secondary school choice (i.e., vocational, technical or academic track) and we estimate differential effects of both first- and second-generation immigrants’ share at school on natives’ outcomes. We implement different impact strategies (i.e., OLS, IV, family fixed effects). Our preferred one is a ‘family fixed effects’ design, which allows comparing siblings who belong to the same household - hence controlling for family time-invariant characteristics - but to different birth cohorts and hence are exposed to different share of immigrant peers. Our results show that, on average, the share of immigrant origin students at school has zero impacts on both natives’ achievement and school choices. Some negative impacts of immigrant concentration are found only at very high shares of immigrants at school. Finally, the analysis shows that the presence of second-generation immigrants at school has positive effects on natives’ achievement.

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 Presented in Session 41. Immigration, Human Capital and Integration