Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation
Identify the effects of peers using sources of idisyncratic sources of variation, such as changes in the gender and racial composition.
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
NBER -National Bureau of Economics
Working Paper 7867
- Students are affected by the achievement level of their peers: a credibly exogenous change of 1 point in peers' reading scores raises a student's own score between 0.15 and 0.4 points, depending on the specification.
- Evidence that peer effects are stronger intra-race and that some effects do not operate through peers' achievement.
- Both females and males tend to perform better in reading when they are in more female classes. The effect is larger for higher grades.
- Black, Hispanic, and Anglo third graders all tend to perform worse in reading and math when they are in classes that have a larger share of Nlack students. For instance, for every 10% point change in the share of their class that is Black, Black students' reading scores fall by 0.2501 points, Hispanic students' reading scores fall by 0.0983 points, and Anglo students' reading scores fall by 0.0620 points. For the same 10 percentage point change in the share of their class that is Black, Black students' math scores fall by 0.1863, Hispanic students' math scores fall by 0.0861 points, and Anglo students' reading scores fall by 0.0427 points.
- Results suggest that the effect of mean peer achievement varies, and are greatest for peers within the racial group generating the change in achievement.
- The negative effect of the Black share on Black students is strongest in cohorts between 33 and 66% Black.
- The negative effect of the Black share on Anglo students is largest in cohorts that are at least 33% Black.
- The negative effect of the Hispanic share on Hispanic students only appears in cohorts that are 0 to 33% Hispanic. In fact, the Hispanic share has statistically significant, positive effect on the achievement of Hispanic students in cohorts that are 66 to 100 percent Hispanic.
- The idiosyncratic reading achievement of Black, Hispanic, and Anglo students is positively, statistically significantly correlated.
Classroom Composition, Gender, Peer Effects, Racial Composition, SES Composition
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
Texas students in public schools
Unit of Analysis:
Classroom, School, Student
- Uses administrative data on 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders in the state of Texas during the 1990s.
- Uses Instrumental Variables and "drop if more than random".
- Methodology intends to correct for self selection of students into schools. Because selection has traditionally plagues estimates of peer effects, with parents' behaviors and schools' behavior being potent sources of selection bias in classroom-based estimates of peer effects.
- Includes all races but do not show estimates for Native American or Asian students' achievement because the numbers are too small and the estimates too imprecise.
- DV: Achievement (measured as reading and math scores)
- IV: School racial composition (percent Native American, Asian, Black, Hispanic, Anglo), school SES composition (percent nondisadvantaged, percent free lunch, percent reduced price lunch), percent female