Social Animal House: The Economic and Academic Consequences of Fraternity Membership

Jack Mara, Lewis Davis and Stephen Schmidt

We exploit changes in the residential and social environment on campus to identify the economic and academic consequences of fraternity membership at a small Northeastern college. Our estimates suggest that these consequences are large, with fraternity membership lowering student GPA by approximately 0.25 points on the traditional four-point scale, but raising future income by approximately 36%, for those students whose decision about membership is affected by changes in the environment. These results suggest that fraternity membership causally produces large gains in social capital, which more than outweigh its negative effects on human capital for potential members. Alcohol-related behavior does not explain much of the effects of fraternity membership on either the human capital or social capital effects. These findings suggest that college administrators face significant trade-offs when crafting policies related to Greek life on campus.