Briana Ballis

Despite the significant influence that peer motivation is likely to have on educational investments during high school, it is difficult to test empirically since exogenous changes in peer motivation are rarely observed. In this paper, I focus on the 2012 introduction of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to study a setting in which peer motivation changed sharply for a subset of high school students. DACA significantly increased the returns to schooling for undocumented youth, while leaving the returns for their peers unchanged. I find that DACA induced undocumented youth to invest more in their education, which also had positive spillover effects on ineligible students (those born in the US) who attended high school with high concentrations of DACA-eligible youth.

Publication Type
Working Paper
File Description
First version, June 1, 2021
JEL Codes
I26: Returns to Education
H52: National Government Expenditures and Education
J15: Economics of Minorities, Races, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
high school
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
undocumented youth
Spillover effects