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Interracial Friendships in College

  • Braz Camargo
  • Ralph Stinebrickner
  • Todd R. Stinebrickner

Motivated by the reality that the benefits of diversity on a college campus will be mitigated if interracial interactions are scarce or superficial, previous work has strived to document the amount of interracial friendship interaction and to examine whether policy can influence this amount. In this paper we take advantage of unique longitudinal data from the Berea Panel Study to build on this previous literature by providing direct evidence about the amount of interracial friendships at different stages of college and by providing new evidence about some of the possible underlying reasons for the observed patterns of interaction. We find that, while much sorting exists at all stages of college, black and white students are, in reality, very compatible as friends; randomly assigned roommates of different races are as likely to become friends as randomly assigned roommates of the same race. Further, we find that, in the long-run, white students who are randomly assigned black roommates have a significantly larger proportion of black friends than white students who are randomly assigned white roommates, even when the randomly assigned roommates are not included in the calculation of the proportions. This last result contradicts previous findings in the literature.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15970.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15970.

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Date of creation: May 2010
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Publication status: published as Braz Camargo & Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner, 2010. "Interracial Friendships in College," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 861-892, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15970
Note: ED LS
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  1. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd R. Stinebrickner, 2003. "Working during School and Academic Performance," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 449-472, April.
  2. Matthew O. Jackson & Brian W. Rogers, 2007. "Meeting Strangers and Friends of Friends: How Random Are Social Networks?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 890-915, June.
  3. David Marmaros & Bruce Sacerdote, 2006. "How Do Friendships Form?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(1), pages 79-119, 02.
  4. Jesse Rothstein & Albert Yoon, 2006. "Mismatch in Law School," Working Papers 79, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  5. Cornell, Bradford & Welch, Ivo, 1996. "Culture, Information, and Screening Discrimination," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 542-71, June.
  6. 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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