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Understanding peer effects: on the nature, estimation, and channels of peer effects


Feld, Jan; Zölitz, Ulf (2017). Understanding peer effects: on the nature, estimation, and channels of peer effects. Journal of Labor Economics, 35(2):387-428.

Abstract

This paper estimates peer effects in a university context where students are randomly assigned to sections. While students benefit from better peers on average, low-achieving students are harmed by high-achieving peers. Analyzing students’ course evaluations suggests that peer effects are driven by improved group interaction rather than adjustments in teachers’ behavior or students’ effort. Building on Angrist’s research, we further show that classical measurement error in a setting where group assignment is systematic can lead to a substantial overestimation of peer effects. However, when group assignment is random—like in our setting—peer effect estimates are biased toward zero.

Abstract

This paper estimates peer effects in a university context where students are randomly assigned to sections. While students benefit from better peers on average, low-achieving students are harmed by high-achieving peers. Analyzing students’ course evaluations suggests that peer effects are driven by improved group interaction rather than adjustments in teachers’ behavior or students’ effort. Building on Angrist’s research, we further show that classical measurement error in a setting where group assignment is systematic can lead to a substantial overestimation of peer effects. However, when group assignment is random—like in our setting—peer effect estimates are biased toward zero.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Date:April 2017
Deposited On:09 Feb 2018 10:17
Last Modified:19 Feb 2018 10:57
Publisher:University of Chicago Press
ISSN:0734-306X
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1086/689472

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