Liu, Ge, & Carbonaro, William
Friendship Networks and Racial/Ethnic Differences in Academic Outcomes
University of Notre Dame
What is the effect of racial and achievement composition on two peer group characteristics both at the school and at friendship network levels?
Journal Name or Institutional Affiliation:
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
- The relationship between school-level racial composition and achievement levels and racial/ethnic differences in academic outcomes is mediated through the racial heterogeneity and average GPA of students' best friend
- The achievement level of students' best friends have significantly positive effects on the academic outcomes of students of all races/ethnicities
- African American and Hispanic students benefit more than Whites from a diverse racial composition in their friendship network.
- A racially diverse friendship network affects white students negatively, while having a significantly positive effect on AA and Hispanic students. These effects are either largely diminished or become insignificant with the addition of the average GPA of best friends, which affects academic outcomes positively; and this effect remains significantly positive even after all school and individual-level factors are taken into account.
- Interracial friendships are especially important for minority students. Minority students tend to benefit indirectly from attending racially diverse schools: diverse school settings offer minority students access to social networks that are especially important for their academic outcomes.
Academic Achievement, Friendships, High School, Math, Peer Effects, Science, Vocabulary
Secondary Survey Data
Method of Analysis:
7th to 12th graders
Unit of Analysis:
- Uses the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health).
- Use a subsample of the AddHealth data and limit sample to high school students only.
- Uses Macrostructural theory, Contact Theory and Group threat theory.
- Studies Hispanic, African American and White students.
- DV: Four student outcomes (2002) Peabody Vocabulary Test score percentile rank, cumulative GPA of Math courses taken in HS, cumulative GPA of Science courses taken in HS, and whether attending/having attended college in 2001-02.
- IV: Racial heterogeneity and average GPA of students' friendship network; variables of friendship network attributes (size, age, race, grades)
- Control Variables: 1994-1995 score percentile rank, individual educational expectations, course-taking , and parental involvement.