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You Are Who You Eat With: Academic Peer Effects from School Lunch Lines

Jonathan Presler ()
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Jonathan Presler: Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research, Saint Louis University, Postal: 3700 West Pine Mall Blvd., Fusz Hall 358, St. Louis, MO 63103,

No 21-2, Working Papers from Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research, Saint Louis University

Abstract: Using daily lunch transaction data from NYC public schools, I determine which students frequently stand next to one another in the lunch line. I use this `revealed' friendship network to estimate academic peer effects in elementary school classrooms, improving on previous work by defining not only where social connections exist, but the relative strength of these connections. Equally weighting all peers in a reference group assumes that all peers are equally important and may bias estimates by underweighting important peers and overweighting unimportant peers. I find that students who eat together are important influencers of one another's academic performance, with stronger effects in math than in reading. Further exploration of the mechanisms supports my claim that these are friendship networks. I also compare the influence of friends from different periods in the school year and find that connections occurring around standardized testing dates are most influential on test scores.

Keywords: Peer effect; network; education; lunch line (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C31 I21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 62 pages
Date: 2021-06-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu, nep-net, nep-soc and nep-ure
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