Residential Peer Effects in Higher Education: Does the Field of Study Matter?

20 Pages Posted: 23 May 2008

See all articles by Giorgio Brunello

Giorgio Brunello

University of Padua - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Maria De Paola

Università degli Studi della Calabria - Department of Economics and Statistics

Vincenzo Scoppa

Università degli Studi della Calabria - Department of Economics and Statistics

Abstract

Economists have a poor understanding of the mechanisms underlying reduced-form college peer effects. In this paper we explore a candidate mechanism, the provision of school effort. We show that, when earnings reflect individual educational performance as well as the field of study selected at college, and individual effort is a function of expected earnings, the size of the peer effect varies by field. Using data from a middle-sized public university located in Southern Italy and exploiting the random assignment of first year students to college accommodation, we find evidence that peer effects are positive and statistically significant for students enrolled in the fields of Engineering, Maths and Natural Sciences - which are expected to generate higher earnings after college - and not different from zero for students enrolled in the Humanities, Social and Life Sciences, which give access to lower payoffs. An implication of our model is that shocks affecting college wage premia may alter the size of peer effects.

Keywords: optimal effort, fields of study, Italy, random assignment, peer effects

JEL Classification: I21, Z13, J24

Suggested Citation

Brunello, Giorgio and De Paola, Maria and Scoppa, Vincenzo, Residential Peer Effects in Higher Education: Does the Field of Study Matter?. , Vol. , pp. -, . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1136439 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x

Giorgio Brunello (Contact Author)

University of Padua - Department of Economics ( email )

via Del Santo 33
35121 Padova
Italy
+39 049 827 4223 (Phone)
+39 049 827 4221 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Maria De Paola

Università degli Studi della Calabria - Department of Economics and Statistics ( email )

via Ponte Bucci
Arcavacata di Rende, Cosenza 87036
Italy

Vincenzo Scoppa

Università degli Studi della Calabria - Department of Economics and Statistics ( email )

via Ponte Bucci
Arcavacata di Rende, Cosenza 87036
Italy

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