Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Research Papers in Economics,
Stockholm University, Department of Economics

No 2011:4: Dynamic Aspects of Teenage Friendships and Educational Attainment

Eleonora Patacchini (), Edoardo Rainone () and Yves Zenou ()
Additional contact information
Eleonora Patacchini: La Sapienza University of Rome, EIEF, IZA and CEPR., Postal: Dipartimento di Economia, Facoltà di Scienze Statistiche, Università di Roma "La Sapienza", P.le Aldo Moro, 5 - 00185 ROMA
Edoardo Rainone: La Sapienza University of Rome, Postal: Dipartimento di Economia, Facoltà di Scienze Statistiche, Università di Roma "La Sapienza", P.le Aldo Moro, 5 - 00185 ROMA
Yves Zenou: Stockholm University, Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), GAINS, IZA and CEPR. Email:, Postal: Department of Economics, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: We study peer effects in education. We first develop a network model that predicts a relationship between own education and peers’ education as measured by direct links in the social network. We then test this relationship using the four waves of the AddHealth data, looking at the impact of school friends nominated in the first wave in 1994-1995 on own educational outcome reported in the fourth wave in 2007-2008. We find that there are strong and persistent peer effects in education since a standard deviation increase in peers’ education attainment translates into roughly a 10 percent increase of a standard deviation in the individual’s education attainment (roughly 3.5 more months of education). We also find that peer effects are in fact significant only for adolescents who were friends in grades 10-12 but not for those who were friends in grades 7-9. This might indicate that social norms are important in educational choice since the individual’s choice of college seems to be influenced by that of friends in the two last years of high school.

Keywords: Social networks; education; peer effects; identification strategy

JEL-codes: C21; I21; Z13

32 pages, January 25, 2011

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