The paper presented in this ZEW Research Seminar analyses how student performance and specialization decisions are affected by a student’s ordinal achievement rank in a peer group. Exploiting a setting with randomly assigned groups, we find that students with a higher rank in their group achieve higher grades and become more likely to graduate. Moreover, if students have a high rank in a particular subject, they are more likely to choose related follow-up courses and majors. We provide evidence on altered self-perceptions about one’s ability as a likely mechanism. Our results highlight the importance of relative comparisons, with lasting effects on human capital investment and educational decisions.


Ingo E. Isphording

Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), Bonn


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12.07.2018 | 14:00 - 15:30 (CET)

Event Location

ZEW – Leibniz-Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung

L 7, 1 68161 Mannheim


Heinz König Hall


Junior Research Associate