The Good, the Bad and the Average: Evidence on the Scale and Nature of Ability Peer Effects in Schools

46 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2009 Last revised: 18 Aug 2010

See all articles by Victor Lavy

Victor Lavy

University of Warwick - Department of Economics; Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Olmo Silva

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Geography and Environment; London School of Economics (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Felix Weinhardt

Humboldt University of Berlin; London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Date Written: December 2009

Abstract

In this paper, we study ability peer effects in secondary schools in England and identify which segments of the peer ability distribution drive the impact of peer quality on students‟ achievements. To do so, we use census data for four cohorts of pupils taking their age-14 national tests, and measure students‟ ability by their prior achievements at age-11. We employ a new identification strategy based on within-pupil regressions that exploit variation in achievements across the three compulsory subjects (English, Mathematics and Science) tested both at age-14 and age-11. We find significant and sizeable negative peer effects arising from bad peers at the very bottom of the ability distribution, but little evidence that average peer quality and very good peers significantly affect pupils‟ academic achievements. However, these results mask some significant heterogeneity along the gender dimension, with girls significantly benefiting from the presence of very academically bright peers, and boys marginally losing out.

Suggested Citation

Lavy, Victor and Silva, Olmo and Weinhardt, Felix, The Good, the Bad and the Average: Evidence on the Scale and Nature of Ability Peer Effects in Schools (December 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15600. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1528023

Victor Lavy (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, 91905
Israel
+972 2 588 3245 (Phone)
+972 2 581 6071 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Olmo Silva

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Geography and Environment ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

London School of Economics (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

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Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Felix Weinhardt

Humboldt University of Berlin ( email )

Unter den Linden 6
Berlin, AK Berlin 10099
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.fweinhardt.de

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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