UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An empirical and economic analysis of high school peer effects Hill, Andrew J.


Parents are concerned about the influence of friends during adolescence. Using the gender composition of schoolmates in an individual's close neighbourhood as an instrument for the gender composition of an individual's self-reported friendship network, Chapter 2 of this dissertation finds that the share of opposite gender friends has a sizeable negative effect on high school GPA. The effect is found across all subjects for students over the age of sixteen, but is limited to mathematics and science for younger students. Self-reported difficulties getting along with the teacher and paying attention in class are important mechanisms through which the effect operates. The subject-specific effects for younger students and larger estimates for females in general are consistent with a gender socialization hypothesis in which young females conform to traditional gender roles in the presence of males. Chapter 3 investigates the extent to which course repeaters in high school mathematics courses exert negative externalities on their course-mates. Using individual and school-specific course fixed effects to control for ability and course selection, it shows that doubling the number of repeaters in a given course (holding the number of course-takers constant) results in a 0.15 reduction in GPA scores for first-time course-takers. Further results suggest that the negative effect is only evident when the share of repeaters reaches a threshold of five to ten percent of the total number of course-takers. Chapter 4 provides evidence that part-time work during high school affects the college attendance and labour market entry decisions of young adults: 8-10th grade students working more than five hours per week are less likely to attend college and more likely to enter the labour market upon high school graduation than other students. The part-time working behaviour of same-grade schoolmates is used as an instrument for individual part-time working behaviour.

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