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

14 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2010

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

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Abstract

Does the peer effect vary with the field of study? 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 that roommate peer effects for freshmen enrolled in the hard sciences are positive and significantly larger than for freshmen enrolled in the humanities and social sciences. We present a simple theoretical model which suggests that the uncovered differences between fields in the size of the peer effect could plausibly be generated by between-field variation in labor market returns, which affect optimal student effort.

Suggested Citation

Brunello, Giorgio and De Paola, Maria and Scoppa, Vincenzo, Peer Effects in Higher Education: Does the Field of Study Matter?. Economic Inquiry, Vol. 48, Issue 3, pp. 621-634, July 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1627409 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7295.2009.00235.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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