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The impact of only child peers on students’ cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes

Xiqian Cai, Qingliang (Michael) Fan and Congying Yuan

Labour Economics, 2022, vol. 78, issue C

Abstract: We utilize representative and randomly assigned class data in China to study how being integrated with classmates who are only children in a family affects students’ academic and non-cognitive outcomes. A single child has certain common characteristics related to social preferences and learning attitude, which will potentially change the classroom environment. Our findings show that having a 10-percentage-point increase in the proportion of only child peers in the classroom improves students’ test scores by 6.78% of a standard deviation. However, when facing a higher share of only children, students’ mental health and social development will decrease. A somewhat more interesting finding is that only children appear to suffer more from having only child peers than students with siblings regarding social development. A further decomposition of mechanisms suggests that teachers’ teaching strategy, student-parent interactions, and student-student interactions explain a total of approximately 32.52% of this effect on test scores, and the lack of student-student interactions accounts for approximately 22.50% of the loss of social development at school.

Keywords: Only child peers; Classroom environment; Academic outcome; Non-cognitive outcomes; Mechanism decomposition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C21 D91 J13 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2022.102231

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