Combating Negative Peer Effects: Evidence from Judicial and School Resource Interventions
Mark L. Hoekstra
Recent empirical work on peer effects in education has primarily focused on identification. However, little is known about the extent to which social and education policy can mitigate the negative spillovers caused by disruptive children. This paper addresses this question by examining the causal effects from two different policy responses: judicial intervention following the reporting of domestic violence by a parent and additional counseling resources in the school. We find that children from homes with as-yet unreported domestic violence cause large negative classroom externalities. However, these negative peer effects disappear completely once the parent reports the violence to the court. Our results also show that one additional school counselor increases student math and reading achievement by 1.1 percentile points. Collectively, our results offer encouraging evidence that policymakers have the ability to counteract the negative peer effects caused by children from troubled families.
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