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The Determinants and Consequences of Friendship Composition

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  • Jason M. Fletcher
  • Stephen L. Ross
  • Yuxiu Zhang

Abstract

This paper examines the demographic pattern of friendship links among youth and the impact of those patterns on own educational outcomes using the friendship network data in the Add Health. We develop and estimate a reduced form matching model to predict friendship link formation and identify the parameters based on across-cohort, within school variation in the “supply” of potential friends. Our model provides novel evidence on the impact of small changes in peer demographic composition on the pattern of friendship links. The evidence suggests, for example, that increases in the share of African-American or Hispanic students leads to reductions in the incidence of cross race friendships. We then use the predicted friendship links from the model in an instrumental variable analysis of the effects of friends’ socioeconomic status, as measured by parental education, on own grade point average outcomes. Although the conditional correlation between friendship composition and grade point average suggests large associations between friends’ characteristics and own grades, this effect is robust only for females in the instrumental variable analysis. We then present evidence that the GPA effects are driven by science and English grades and a mechanism is likely through non-cognitive factors.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19215.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19215

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  1. Mayer, Adalbert & Puller, Steven L., 2008. "The old boy (and girl) network: Social network formation on university campuses," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1-2), pages 329-347, February.
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  13. Raymond Fisman & Sheena S. Iyengar & Emir Kamenica & Itamar Simonson, 2008. "Racial Preferences in Dating," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 117-132.
  14. Robert Bifulco & Jason M. Fletcher & Stephen L. Ross, 2011. "The Effect of Classmate Characteristics on Post-secondary Outcomes: Evidence from the Add Health," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 25-53, February.
  15. Blomquist, Soren & Dahlberg, Matz, 1999. "Small Sample Properties of LIML and Jackknife IV Estimators: Experiments with Weak Instruments," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(1), pages 69-88, Jan.-Feb..
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Cited by:
  1. Bicakova, Alena & Jurajda, Stepan, 2014. "The Quiet Revolution and the Family: Gender Composition of Tertiary Education and Early Fertility Patterns," CEPR Discussion Papers 9861, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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