Clément Bosquet, Pierre-Philippe Combes, 21 June 2013

Every academic has an opinion about what makes a good department. This column brings evidence from French economics departments. It suggests that larger departments are associated with slightly more but no better publications per academic. And while diversity in terms of researcher quality lowers average publication quality, diversity in research topics increases it.

Xiaodong Liu, Eleonora Patacchini, Yves Zenou, 09 April 2013

Economists know that your peers’ behaviour affects your economic and social outcomes. But what mechanisms are at work here? This column highlights the two major approaches that hope to explain ‘peer effects’: either people don’t want to deviate from social norms; or they are affected by a ‘social multiplier’, the influence of the sum of their peers’ behaviour. Using detailed data on friendship networks, evidence suggests that there are strong social-multiplier effects in criminal behaviour whereas, for education, social norms matter the most. A detailed understanding of peer effects will undoubtedly help policymakers better tackle social problems.

Josh Lerner, 22 August 2008

Where do clusters of entrepreneurs come from? Josh Lerner of Harvard Business School talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about his research on peer effects and early-career entrepreneurship, which analyses data on HBS alumni. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in New Orleans in January 2008.

Richard Baldwin, 31 May 2008

Smoking bans are sweeping Europe. New research suggests that these bans reduce smoking amongst those directly affected and their families and peers, creating what could be called a “public health multiplier”.

Eric Gould, Todd Kaplan, 05 November 2007

The importance of environment and how workers affect the productivity of co-workers through learning valuable skills and work habits is often stressed, but whether employees sometimes learn unethical practices from their peers in order to boost productivity is less well documented. The authors of CEPR DP6550 find that once a worker adopts questionable methods - which seem to be effective, competitive pressures may lead others to follow in order to get ahead, or perhaps just to stay even with other workers who are adopting similar techniques.

Eric Gould, Eyal Winter, 15 October 2007

How does the effort shown by one worker affect the efforts of fellow workers within the same firm? While frequently proposed behavioural explanations would lead us to expect that one worker trying harder would encourage others to also try harder (and vice versa), irrespective of the roles of the workers concerned, the authors of CEPR DP6527 show how the change in effort put in by one worker can have either a positive or negative impact on co-workers based purely on income-maximizing considerations.



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