Peer networks and malleability of educational aspirations

Michelle Gonzalez Amador, Robin Cowan & Eleonora Nillesen


Continuing education beyond the compulsory years of schooling is one of the most important choices an adolescent has to make; higher education is associated with a host of social and economic benefits both for the person and its community. Today, there is ample evidence that educational aspirations are an important determinant of said choice. We implement a multilevel, networked experiment in 45 Mexican high schools, and provide evidence of the malleability of educational aspirations, and the interdependence of students' choices and the effect of our intervention with peer networks. Moreover, we find that a video- intervention, which combines role-models and information about returns to education, is successful in updating students' beliefs and consequently educational aspirations.

Keywords: Aspirations, Education, Adolescents, Economics of Networks, Peer Effects, School transitions, Field Experiment, Social Network Analysis, Randomized Controlled Trial

JEL Classification: A21, C21, C22, C93, D83, D91, I29

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