Friends and foes

Skills, social interactions and bullying in primary school.

Disruptive behaviours in school are widespread and are thought to have negative impacts on child development. However, these behaviours have been understudied, particularly with systematic explicit models of the underlying behaviours that permit counterfactual simulations of intervention effects. This research program takes a novel approach to exploring bullying in classrooms and the cognitive and non-cognitive determinants and consequences of it. It places the endogenous peer group formation in focus and seeks to understand how social connections are formed and how they mediate the relationship between predetermined characteristics such as family background and personality traits and school bullying. It uses a novel primary data source that is tailored to the needs of the researchers, frontier structural econometric methods and a randomized control trial of two universal bullying prevention programs. It further exploits innovatively techniques completely novel to Economics such as machine learning for predictive data analysis, in order to simulate optimal policies based on the analyses. The project will empirically and comprehensively address the factors behind the emergence of early disruptive behavior and the impacts of such behavior, thereby revising and extending the empirical literature on child social interactions, peer effects, skill formation and childhood development.

Project start





Torsten Santavirta (project manager)
Denis Ribeaud, University of Zurich
Miguel Sarzosa, Purdue University

Key words

Disruptive behavior, Social interactions, Personality traits , Non-cognitive skills, Cognitive Skills, Nationalekonomi

Last modified: 2022-12-06