Seminar 11 November, 2013
Peer Effects in Math and Science
Peer effects may seriously dampen or amplify the effectiveness of policies aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of core skills. In this paper, we investigate the importance of peer effects in the decision to pursue advanced math and science in high school. We exploit quasi-experimental variation stemming from a pilot scheme inducing some older siblings to pursue advanced math and science at a lower cost, while not directly influencing the course choices of younger siblings. Therefore, any influences of this pilot scheme on the younger siblings may be attributed to the peer influence of the older sibling. Our results suggest that social interaction effects among siblings are strongest among closely spaced siblings and their significance depends on the gender composition of the sibling pair. We find the strongest social interaction effects between closely spaced brothers.