NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Cool to be Smart or Smart to be Cool? Understanding Peer Pressure in Education

Leonardo Bursztyn, Georgy Egorov, Robert Jensen

NBER Working Paper No. 23020
Issued in January 2017
NBER Program(s):Children, Economics of Education, Political Economy

Concerns about social image may negatively affect schooling behavior. We identify two potentially important peer cultures: one that stigmatizes effort (thus, where it is “smart to be cool”) and one that rewards ability (where it is “cool to be smart”). We build a model showing that either may lower the takeup of educational activities when takeup and performance are potentially observable to peers. We design a field experiment allowing us to test whether students are influenced by these concerns at all, and then which they are more influenced by. We examine high schools in two settings: a low-income, high minority share area and a higher-income, lower minority share area. In both settings, peer pressure reduces takeup of an SAT prep package. We show that this is consistent with a greater concern for hiding effort in the lower-income school, and a greater concern with hiding low ability in the higher-income schools.

download in pdf format
   (653 K)

email paper

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23020

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Bursztyn, Egorov, and Fiorin w23415 From Extreme to Mainstream: How Social Norms Unravel
Bursztyn and Jensen w20714 How Does Peer Pressure Affect Educational Investments?
Bursztyn and Jensen w23013 Social Image and Economic Behavior in the Field: Identifying, Understanding and Shaping Social Pressure
Hoxby and Avery w18586 The Missing "One-Offs": The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low Income Students
Almond, Currie, and Duque w23017 Childhood Circumstances and Adult Outcomes: Act II
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us