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Elsner, Benjamin
Isphording, Ingo E.
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
IZA Discussion Papers No. 9121
We study the impact of a student's ordinal rank in a high school cohort on educational attainment several years later. To identify a causal effect, we compare multiple cohorts within the same school, exploiting idiosyncratic variation in cohort composition. We find that a student's ordinal rank significantly affects educational outcomes later in life. If two students with the same ability have a different rank in their respective cohort, the higher-ranked student is significantly more likely to finish high school, attend college, and complete a 4-year college degree. These results suggest that low-ranked students under-invest in their human capital even if they have a high ability compared to most students of the same age. Exploring potential channels, we find that students with a higher rank have higher expectations about their future career, a higher perceived intelligence, and receive more support from their teachers.
educational attainment
peer effects
ordinal rank
human capital
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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