DP8223 | Dynamic Aspects of Teenage Friendships and Educational Attainment

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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.