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School ties: An analysis of homophily in an adolescent friendship network


  • Simon Burgess
  • Eleanor Sanderson
  • Marcela Umana-Aponte



Homophily is the tendency to establish relationships among people who share similar characteristics or attributes. This study presents evidence of homophilic behaviour for an adolescent friendship network of 6,961 links in the West of England. We control for unobserved characteristics by estimating school and individual fixed effects and present evidence on the role of length and closeness of friendships on the degree of homophily. We also exploit the dynamics of the friendship by comparing similarities among existing and future friends. Results indicate that academic achievement, personality, educational aspirations, bad behaviour and mother’s education are essential in the friendship formation process. However, income and parents’ occupational class proved to be insignificant. We also show that the degree of homophily among friends selected from a random process is much lower than that of the observed friendships.

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  • Simon Burgess & Eleanor Sanderson & Marcela Umana-Aponte, 2011. "School ties: An analysis of homophily in an adolescent friendship network," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 11/267, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  • Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:11/267

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lundborg, Petter, 2006. "Having the wrong friends? Peer effects in adolescent substance use," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 214-233, March.
    2. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2004:94:1:89-95_8 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Gregg, Paul & Propper, Carol & Washbrook, Elizabeth, 2007. "Understanding the relationship between parental income and multiple child outcomes: a decomposition analysis," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 6196, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    4. David Marmaros & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "How Do Friendships Form?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 79-119.
    5. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "The Effects of Social Networks on Employment and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 426-454, June.
    6. Sergio Currarini & Matthew O. Jackson & Paolo Pin, 2009. "An Economic Model of Friendship: Homophily, Minorities, and Segregation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(4), pages 1003-1045, July.
    7. Galeotti, Andrea & Ghiglino, Christian & Squintani, Francesco, 2009. "Strategic Information Transmission in Networks," Economics Discussion Papers 2974, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    8. Gunter J. Hitsch & Ali Hortaçsu & Dan Ariely, 2010. "Matching and Sorting in Online Dating," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 130-163, March.
    9. Jacob K. Goeree & Margaret A. McConnell & Tiffany Mitchell & Tracey Tromp & Leeat Yariv, 2010. "The 1/d Law of Giving," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 183-203, February.
    10. Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Matthew O. Jackson, 2009. "Like Father, Like Son: Social Network Externalities and Parent-Child Correlation in Behavior," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 124-150, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Burgess, Simon, 2016. "Human Capital and Education: The State of the Art in the Economics of Education," IZA Discussion Papers 9885, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. repec:eee:intell:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:30-35 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Networks; Homophily; Segregation; Friendships; Adolescents;

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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