High-Ability Influencers? The Heterogeneous Effects of Gifted Classmates

63 Pages Posted: 28 Dec 2020

See all articles by Simone Balestra

Simone Balestra

University of St. Gallen

Aurélien Sallin

University of St. Gallen

Stefan C. Wolter

Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SKBF)

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Abstract

This paper examines how exposure to students identified as gifted (IQ ≥ 130) affects achievement in secondary school, enrollment in post-compulsory education, and occupational choices. By using student-level administrative data on achievement combined with psychological examination records, we study the causal impact of gifted students on their classmates in unprecedented detail. We find a positive and significant effect of the exposure to gifted students on school achievement in both math and language. The impact of gifted students is, however, highly heterogeneous along three dimensions. First, we observe the strongest effects among male students and high achievers. Second, we show that male students benefit from the presence of gifted peers in all subjects regardless of their gender, whereas female students seem to benefit primarily from the presence of female gifted students. Third, we find that gifted students diagnosed with emotional or behavioral disorders have zero-to-negative effects on their classmates' performance, a detrimental effect more pronounced for female students. Finally, exposure to gifted students in school has consequences that extend beyond the classroom: it increases the likelihood of choosing a selective academic track as well as occupations in STEM fields.

JEL Classification: I21, I24, I26, J24

Suggested Citation

Balestra, Simone and Sallin, Aurélien and Wolter, Stefan C., High-Ability Influencers? The Heterogeneous Effects of Gifted Classmates. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13968, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3755385 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3755385

Simone Balestra (Contact Author)

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Aurélien Sallin

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Bodanstrasse 8
SIAW-HSG
St.Gallen, 9000
Switzerland

Stefan C. Wolter

Swiss Coordination Centre for Research in Education (SKBF) ( email )

CH - 5000 Aarau
Switzerland
+41 62 835 23 90 (Phone)
+41 62 835 23 99 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.skbf-csre.ch

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