High-Ability Influencers? The Heterogeneous Effects of Gifted Classmates

Journal of Human Resources

We study the causal impact of intellectually gifted students on their nongifted classmates’ school achievement, enrollment in post-compulsory education, and occupational choices. Using student-level administrative and psychological data, we find a positive effect of exposure to gifted students on peers’ school achievement in both math and language. This impact is heterogeneous. Larger effects are observed among male students and high achievers; female students benefit primarily from female gifted students; effects are driven by gifted students not diagnosed with emotional or behavioral disorders. Exposure to gifted students increases the likelihood of choosing a selective academic track and occupations in STEM fields.

Media coverage: the St. Galler Tagblatt and interview on Youtube.