Isolating Peer Effects in the Returns to College Selectivity

83 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2019

See all articles by Nicolás de Roux

Nicolás de Roux

Universidad de los Andes - Department of Economics

Evan Riehl

Cornell University, Department of Economics

Date Written: September 3, 2019

Abstract

This paper asks how a student’s classmates affect her returns to college. We exploit a “tracking” admission system at a selective Colombian university that led to large differences in mean classmate ability for students in the same programs. In a regression discontinuity design, we find that students in higher-ability classes were more likely to fail courses and drop out, and had lower earnings one decade later. Testable predictions from a human capital model with peer externalities show that individuals learned less in more able classrooms. Our findings suggest that exposure to higher-ability college peers can harm an individual’s career trajectory.

Keywords: College Selectivity, Peer Effects, Returns to Education

JEL Classification: I23, I26, J24

Suggested Citation

de Roux, Nicolás and Riehl, Evan, Isolating Peer Effects in the Returns to College Selectivity (September 3, 2019). Documento CEDE No. 2019-34, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3450715 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3450715

Nicolás De Roux (Contact Author)

Universidad de los Andes - Department of Economics ( email )

Carrera 1a No. 18A-10
Bogota, AA4976
Colombia

Evan Riehl

Cornell University, Department of Economics ( email )

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