Peer Effects in College: How Peers' Performance Can Influence Students' Academic Outcomes

Laeticia R. De Souza , Population Studies Center / University of Campinas (NEPO / UNICAMP)
Cristine Campos de Xavier Pinto, Fundação Getúlio Vargas - São Paulo
Dimitri De O e Silva, Escola de Economia de São Paulo - Fundação Getúlio Vargas
Bernardo L. Queiroz, centro de desenvolvimento e planejamento regional

There is a large and growing literature on peer effects as researchers have long begun investigating the role of social interactions for explaining a series of individual behaviors. Schools are very important environments for studying peer effects. A sizable portion of human capital accumulation takes place in schools and this has consequences for individual productivity and wages, for instance. This paper is part of a project that investigates the existence of peer effects in academic outcomes (such as grade point average (GPA), grade in mandatory courses, obtained credits, dropout and retention rates) in a developing country. It does so by exploring specificities in the student's admission process of a Brazilian federal university, which works as a natural experiment. Individuals who are comparable in terms of previous academic achievement - based in their score in the admission exam - end up having classmates with better or worse performance in college because of the assignment rule of students to classrooms starting classes either in the first or in the second semester. Thus, our identification strategy for estimating peer effects on academic outcomes eliminates the endogenous self-selection into groups that would otherwise undermine the causal inference of peer effects.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy