Can Role Models Help Encourage Young People to Apply to (Selective) Universities: Evidence From a Large Scale English Field Experiment

12 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2019

See all articles by Michael Sanders

Michael Sanders

King's College London

Raj Chande

Behavioural Insights Team

Eliza Kozman

Cabinet Office (UK) - Behavioural Insights Team

Timothy Leunig

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economic History

Date Written: December 21, 2018

Abstract

Under-participation in selective universities lowers social mobility in England, the United States, and elsewhere. English universities have standardized tuition costs, and strongly heterogeneous graduate earnings. Attending a selective university is therefore strongly incentivized, yet under-participation is extensive. The British Government sent 11,104 “nudge” letters to school students whose prior attainment made them competitive for entry into selective universities, urging them to consider that option. We evaluate this RCT and find it effective at raising the number of students who apply to, and accept offers from, selective universities. We find the cost to be low relative to outcomes.

Keywords: Field Experiments, Aspirations, Behavioural Economics, Public Policy, Role Models, RCT

JEL Classification: H52, D3

Suggested Citation

Sanders, Michael and Chande, Raj and Kozman, Eliza and Leunig, Timothy, Can Role Models Help Encourage Young People to Apply to (Selective) Universities: Evidence From a Large Scale English Field Experiment (December 21, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3305176 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3305176

Michael Sanders (Contact Author)

King's College London ( email )

Strand
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Raj Chande

Behavioural Insights Team ( email )

London, SW1A 2AS
United Kingdom

Eliza Kozman

Cabinet Office (UK) - Behavioural Insights Team ( email )

London, SW1A 2AS
United Kingdom

Timothy Leunig

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economic History ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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