Peer Effects, Financial Aid, and Selection of Students into Colleges and Universities: An Empirical Analysis
Duke University Economics Working Paper No. 00-02
41 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2000
Date Written: 2000
The goal of this paper is to develop predictions regarding market consequences of peer effects in higher education and to offer empirical evidence about the extent to which those predictions are borne out in the data. We develop a model in which colleges seek to maximize the quality of the educational experience provided to their students. From this model we deduce predictions about the hierarchy of schools that emerges in equilibrium, the allocation of students by income and ability among schools, and about the pricing policies that schools adopt. In the empirical analysis, we use both university-level data provided primarily by Petersons and student-level data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study obtained from the NCES. The findings of this paper suggest that there is a hierarchy of school qualities which is characterized by substantial stratification by income and ability. The evidence on pricing by ability is supportive of positive peer effects in educational achievement from high ability at the college level. However, the evidence on pricing also suggests that more highly ranked schools exercise some degree of market power. This is reflected in the substantial variation of price with income coupled with discounts to more able students that are modest at best.
JEL Classification: I21, J24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation