IZA DP No. 13872: Own Motivation, Peer Motivation, and Educational Success
I study how motivation shapes own and peers' educational success. Using data from Project STAR, I find that academic motivation in early elementary school, as measured by a standardized psychological test, predicts contemporaneous and future test scores, high school GPA, and college-test taking over and above cognitive skills. Exploiting random assignment of students to classes, I find that exposure to motivated classmates causally affects contemporaneous reading achievement, a peer effect that operates over and above spillovers from classmates' past achievement and socio-demographic composition. However, peer motivation does not affect longer-term educational success, likely because it does not change own motivation.