Friendships and Favoritism at School - Evidence from the Field

23 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2009 Last revised: 30 Mar 2011

See all articles by Michèle Belot

Michèle Belot

University of Oxford - Nuffield Department of Medicine

Jeroen van de Ven

University of Amsterdam; Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: March 10, 2009

Abstract

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

Belot, Michèle V. K. and van de Ven, Jeroen, Friendships and Favoritism at School - Evidence from the Field (March 10, 2009). Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics Working Paper No. 2009-04, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1360956 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1360956

Michèle V. K. Belot

University of Oxford - Nuffield Department of Medicine ( email )

New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom

Jeroen Van de Ven (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam ( email )

Spui 21
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

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