This paper investigates whether the educational choices that young people make after the completion of their GCSEs (at age 16) are influenced by their peers. More specifically, it takes advantage of the variation in peer groups that arises when students move from primary to secondary school in order to isolate the impact of secondary school peers on the choice of educational trajectory. These trajectories are broadly classified as academic, vocational, a combination of the two, or no education at all. The results suggest that higher ability peers reduce the likelihood that an individual will choose a vocational course at age 16 after controlling for the individual’s own ability. The authors also find a very strong effect of household income on education choices, showing that the more deprived a student’s background is, the more likely they are to opt for a vocational trajectory over an academic one.
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