May 2018

IZA DP No. 11546: Learning Hope and Optimism: Classmate Experiences and Adolescent Development

This paper explores individual and contextual factors related to the development of hopeful attitudes during adolescence using a nationally representative study. A key focus is on the experiences of maltreatment by adults, both for the adolescent and his/her classmates. While all types of individual experiences with maltreatment reduce adolescent hopefulness, maltreatment domains most likely to be visible (i.e physical abuse) by classmates also reduce adolescent hopefulness. This relationship is robust to the inclusion of more general environmental factors through school-level fixed effects, suggesting both a causal explanation and a typically unmeasured spillover effect of violence against children. Other types of maltreatment, such as neglect and material hardship, do not show spillover effects.