Peer Effects in Higher Education

Gordon C. Winston and David J. Zimmerman

in College Choices

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780226355351
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226355375 | DOI:
Peer Effects in Higher Education

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This chapter describes the importance of peer effects and offers new empirical evidence on their existence. Estimating peer effects is difficult. First, one must decide on the appropriate set of educational outcomes believed to be sensitive to peer attributes. Second, one must specify the relevant peer attributes. Third, and perhaps most difficult, one must contend with the fact that selection bias is rampant in the estimation of peer effects. The chapter uses a unique data set that combines data for three schools from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's College and Beyond data for the entering class of 1989, along with phonebook data identifying roommates, to implement a quasi-experimental empirical strategy aimed at measuring peer effects in academic outcomes. In particular, the chapter uses data on individual student's grades, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, and the SAT scores of their roommates to estimate the effect of roommates' academic characteristics on an individual's grades.

Keywords: peer effects; educational outcomes; academic outcomes; roommates; Scholastic Aptitude Test; grades

Chapter.  11397 words. 

Subjects: Higher and Further Education

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