Research in Higher Education

, Volume 57, Issue 4, pp 448–468 | Cite as

Which Peers Matter: How Social Ties Affect Peer-group Effects



We study how the achievements of university students are influenced by the characteristics and achievements of peers in individuals’ social networks. Defining peer group in terms of friendship and study partner ties enables us to apply a network regression model and thereby disentangle the influence of peers’ performance from that of peers’ background. We find significant positive peer effects via the academic achievements of friends and study partners. Students’ grades increase with the abilities of study partners, who may or may not also be friends; no such effect is observed for friends who are not also study partners. Additionally, the effects of the abilities of other classmates are found to be insignificant. The results support the claim that peer influence acts mainly through knowledge-sharing channels between students who are connected by social ties.


Peer effects Higher education Student achievement Social networks 



The article was prepared within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) and supported within the framework of a subsidy granted to the HSE by the Government of the Russian Federation for the implementation of the Global Competitiveness Program.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Institutional StudiesNational Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia

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