[Journal:] IZA Journal of Labor Economics [ISSN:] 2193-8997 [Volume:] 4 [Year:] 2015 [Pages:] 1-23
This paper examines how peer quality within distinct college majors affects graduation rates and major persistence. To mitigate the selection problem, we control for school-specific fixed effects, as well as very flexible application-admissions pattern fixed effects. Non-science peer quality appears to have a positive effect on both the likelihood that a student chooses a science major and on his or her cumulative GPA. Conversely, students who attend campuses with stronger peers in the sciences are less likely to graduate with a science degree. Weaker, non-minority students typically react to stronger peers in the sciences by shifting majors. Under-represented minorities tend to persist in the sciences regardless of peer quality, but in more competitive programs they suffer - often substantially - in terms of college grades and the likelihood of graduating.