This paper investigates the impact of peers’ ability on an individual’s post-compulsory educational choices in terms of whether they select an academic route or a vocational route. In order to overcome the common problems associated with the identiﬁcation of peer eﬀects, the ability of the primary school peers of secondary school peers, who are not going to the same secondary school, is used as an instrument for secondary school peer group quality. These ‘peers of peers’ did not go to the same primary or secondary school as the individual of interest and so cannot have had any direct impact on them. We examine the impact of peers’ average ability as well as their subject-speciﬁc ability, and also whether the impact of peers diﬀers by gender, or across the ability distribution, or on an individual’s subject choice. Finally, we also allow for peer eﬀects to diﬀer within peer groups, simulating closer friendship ties, and therefore stronger peer eﬀects, between more socio-economically similar individuals. We ﬁnd that peer group ability strongly aﬀects post-16 educational choices. In particular, having higher ability peers signiﬁcantly reduces the likelihood that an individual will undertake post-16 vocational/technical education. The magnitude of the peer ability eﬀect is approximately half as large as the own ability eﬀect on the choice of post-compulsory education pathway.
|Centre for Vocational Educational Research Discussion Paper series
|London School of Economics and Political Science