Friendships and Favoritism at School - Evidence from the Field
23 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2009 Last revised: 30 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 10, 2009
This study presents evidence from a field experiment on the prevalence of favoritism among children. Children compete in groups in a tournament in a real effort experiment with two rounds. The children report which group member they prefer to do the task in the second round, providing them with a small privilege. Using information about their social network and their individual performance, we are able to identify the importance of friendship ties. We find that friendships are very important for all age groups. Performance is an important criterion for the older children, but not for the young. While favoritism can in principle be costly by selecting friends that are not best performers, reducing the likelihood of winning the tournament, we find that there is an offsetting effect: children that are favored tend to increase effort subsequently, thereby reducing the costs of favoritism and possibly making favoritism beneficial.
Keywords: Favoritism, performance, social network, friendship ties
JEL Classification: D63, D64, J13, J15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation