This paper investigates whether the decision to attend university is affected
by university enrollment of close neighbors. I create a unique dataset combining
detailed geographic information and educational records from different public
agencies in Chile, and exploit the quasi-random variation generated by student
loans eligibility rules. I find that close neighbors have a large and significant
impact on university enrollment, especially in areas with low exposure to university
and among individuals who are more likely to interact: the effect decreases both
with geographic and social distance and is weaker for individuals who have spent
less time in the neighborhood. I also show that the rise in enrollment translates
into higher university completion rates. These effects are mediated by an increase
in applications rather than by an improvement in academic performance. This set of
results suggests that policies that expand access to university generate positive
spillovers on close peers of the direct beneficiaries.
This paper investigates whether the effects of a reform that substantially
increased daily instruction time in Chilean primary schools vary depending
on school institutions. Focusing on legacy enrollment students and exploiting
an IV strategy, we find that longer daily schedules increase reading scores
at the end of fourth grade and that the benefits are greater for pupils who
began primary education in no-fee charter schools rather than in public schools.
We provide evidence that these two types of publicly subsidized establishments,
which cater to similar students but differ in the degree of autonomy, expand
the teaching input in different ways: in order to provide the additional
instruction time, no-fee charter schools rely more on hiring new teachers
and less on increasing teachers’ working hours than public schools.
While it is a widely held belief that family and social networks can influence important life decisions, identifying causal effects is notoriously difficult. This paper presents causal evidence from three countries at different stages of economic development that the educational trajectories of older siblings can significantly influence the college and major choice of younger siblings. We exploit institutional features of centralized college assignment systems in Chile, Croatia, and Sweden to generate quasi-random variation in the educational paths taken by older siblings. Using a regression discontinuity design, we show that younger siblings in each country are significantly more likely to apply and enroll in the same college and major that their older sibling was assigned to. These results persist for siblings far apart in age who are unlikely to attend higher education at the same time. We propose three broad classes of mechanisms that can explain why the trajectory of an older sibling can causally affect the college and major choice of a younger sibling. We find that spillovers are stronger when older siblings enroll and are successful in majors that on average have higher scoring peers, lower dropout rates and higher earnings from graduates. The evidence presented shows that the decisions, and even random luck, of your close family members and peer network, can have significant effects on important life decisions such as the choice of specialization in higher education. The results also suggest that college access programs such as affirmative action may have important spillover effects through family and social networks.