HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Professor of Public Policy, HKS; Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government, FAS


Estimates obtained from the first nationally representative longitudinal study of students in the United States in grades K-8, robust to both probit and propensity score matching models, provide empirical support for James Coleman’s social capital theory of Catholic school impacts on student behavior. Catholic schooling has a positive impact on the academic engagement, homework completion, tardiness, absenteeism, class attentiveness, and disruptive behavior of 8th graders. It has a negative impact on student assessments of their self-esteem. Little discernable impact on other psychological traits is observed. Data come from the U.S. Department of Education’s Early Childhood Longitudinal Study (K-8) initiated in 1998. All impacts are observed after controlling for numerous background characteristics and for 1st grade math and reading scores.


Peterson, Paul E., and Martina Viarengo. "Social Capital and School Sector Impacts on the Non-Cognitive Skills of Early Adolescents: Evidence from a Nationally Representative Longitudinal Survey." Harvard University Program on Education Policy and Governance PEPG09-04, October 2009.