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Gender responses to competitive pressure in college: a regression discontinuity design

Pilar Beneito and Inés Rosell
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Inés Rosell: University of Valencia

No 518, Discussion Papers in Economic Behaviour from University of Valencia, ERI-CES

Abstract: The proliferation of competitive college groups in Spain capturing highly qualified students has opened an interesting debate, motivating the study of how students react in such competitive environments. In this paper we provide empirical answers to this issue by comparing high achievement groups (in particular, International Business and Law and Business) with standard groups (Business Administration) at the University of Valencia, Spain. The co-existence of the two kind of groups sharing similar academic programs and the fact that they are separated by a particular value of the access-to-university score each year provide a suitable data source that allows us to identify the causal effect of peers by using a (fuzzy) regression discontinuity design. We implement this methodology to analyze peers’ influences in terms of learning externalities, competitive pressure, or requirement standards, making special emphasis in gender disparities. Our results suggest that peer effects in college are negative and significant for students at the threshold, that is, for those who are ranked at the bottom of the high achievement groups. These findings are more remarkable for women and in International Business, where the level of competitive pressure is expected to be the highest among the three groups considered. We conclude that competitive pressure exerts a negative impact on threshold student`s grades, particularly women, a result that contributes to the recent literature documenting the lower preference of women for competitive contexts.

Keywords: college education; competitive pressure; gender; regression discontinuity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C01 D9 I23 J16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-10
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