Teachers College, Columbia University

Better Together? Social Networks in Truancy and the Targeting of Treatment

Date and Time: November 10, 2018 8:30 a.m.
Location: Washington, DC
Venue: Marriott Wardman Park | 8209 - Lobby Level

Truancy is a risky behavior that predicts many adverse outcomes. Presenters developed a strategy to use administrative data to construct social networks based on students who are truant together. They simulated these networks to document that certain students systematically coordinate their absences in the observed data. They showed that these networks are meaningful by leveraging a parent-information intervention on student absences, in which they found spillover effects from treated students onto peers in their network. Excluding these effects understates the intervention’s cost-effectiveness by 43 percent. Presenters developed an algorithm treatment-effect heterogeneity identified by machine-learning techniques to show there is potential to use these networks to target interventions more efficiently given a budget constraint.


Magdalena Bennett
Senior Research Assistant
Research Affiliate
Community College Research Center