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Be As Careful Of The Company You Keep As Of The Books You Read. Peer Effects In Education And On The Labor Market

In this paper we present a novel identification strategy for the analysis of social interactions and we shed light on the effect of peers' behavior in the choice of college major. Using a newly constructed dataset, we are able to identify the endogenous effect of peers on such decision. Results show that, indeed, one is more likely to choose a major when many of her peers make the same choice. We also provide evidence on skills mismatch, entry wages and occupation. Peer effects are found to be strong enough to divert students from majors in which they have a relative ability advantage. When this happens, students have worse academic performances, earn lower entry wages and are more likely to end up in a job that does not match their skills and expectations.

Giacomo DeGiorgi
Michele Pellizzari
Silvia Redaelli
Publication Date
August, 2008