Schools, Neighborhoods, and the Long-Run Effect of Crime-Prone Peers
Stephen B. Billings, Mark Hoekstra
NBER Working Paper No. 25730
Issued in April 2019
This paper examines how elementary-aged peers affect cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes from adolescence to adulthood. We identify effects by exploiting within-school and within-neighborhood variation in the proportion of peers with an arrested parent. Results indicate exposure to these peers reduces achievement and increases antisocial behavior during middle and high school. More importantly, we estimate that a five percentage point increase in school and neighborhood crime-prone peers increases arrest rates at age 19 – 21 by 6.5 and 2.6 percent, respectively. Additional evidence suggests these effects are due to attending school with crime-prone peers, rather than living in the same neighborhood.
I can recall an English study from about a decade ago that found a less pessimistic result: it studied the children of British leftist intellectuals who sent their kids to working class government schools out of ideological conviction. It found that the children of intellectuals who stuck it out through school did fine at getting into Oxford and Cambridge. However, most of the survivors were girls and the study didn’t know what happened to all the boys whose parents withdrew them from the experiment. Also, the upper middle class intellectual students who survived did not come around to their parents’ pro-working class ideology, but instead only hung out with other children of intellectuals and despised their working class yob classmates.
But I have lost track of the URL of this study.