Do Peers Influence Occupational Preferences? Evidence from Randomly-Assigned Peer Groups at West Point

66 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2018

See all articles by Todd Jones

Todd Jones

Georgia State University

Michael Kofoed

United States Military Academy

Date Written: July 20, 2018

Abstract

Substantial variation exists across occupations in outcomes, such as earnings, job satisfaction, and health, yet little is known about how occupational preferences are shaped and evolve. This paper assesses a channel that may influence occupational preferences-peer effects-by exploiting unique institutional features and a natural experiment at West Point to document the way students' (i.e., cadets') occupational preferences evolve, and to test for peer effects. After graduation, cadets must enter the U.S. Army as an officer in one of 16 occupational branches, and are required to rank-order their preferences for the branches repeatedly over four years. West Point randomly assigns cadets to social groups, both at broad company and narrow roommate levels. We leverage the timing of the randomization and preference elicitations to test for peer effects at the company, roommate, and older-peer levels. After controlling for historical West Point-wide branch popularity, we find little evidence of peer effects in this context.

Keywords: Peer Effects, Occupational Choice

JEL Classification: J24, I23

Suggested Citation

Jones, Todd and Kofoed, Michael, Do Peers Influence Occupational Preferences? Evidence from Randomly-Assigned Peer Groups at West Point (July 20, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3292272 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3292272

Todd Jones

Georgia State University ( email )

Department of Economics
35 Broad Street, 6th Floor
Atlanta, GA 30303-3083
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.toddrjones.com

Michael Kofoed (Contact Author)

United States Military Academy ( email )

600 Thayer Rd
West Point, NY 10996
United States
801-540-8789 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/michaelkofoed1

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