Uncovering Peer Effects in Social and Academic Skills

Discussion Paper

Román Andrés Zárate

June 2022

This paper studies the impact of adolescent peers who are central in their social network on the formation of social skills and academic performance of fellow students. The author conducts a novel large-scale field experiment at selective public boarding schools in Peru with two treatments: (i) more socially central versus less socially central peers, and (ii) higher-achieving versus lower-achieving peers. Peer effects are more pronounced for social skills than academic performance, and both vary by gender. While socially central peers lead boys to better social skills, higher-achieving peers decrease girls’ test scores. Gender differences in self-confidence can explain both findings.