The Consequences of Friendships: Evidence on the Effect of Social Relationships in School on Academic Achievement

61 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2013

See all articles by Jason Fletcher

Jason Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Stephen L. Ross

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Yuxiu Zhang

Yale University

Date Written: July 2013

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of youth friendship links on student’s own academic performance (grade point average) using the Add Health. We estimate a reduced form, high dimensional fixed effects model of within cohort or grade friendship links, and use this model to predict each student’s number of friends whose mothers have a four year college degree. The effects of friendship links are identified using across-cohort, within school variation in demographic composition of the student’s cohort or grade. We find that increases in number of friendship links with students whose mothers are college educated raises grade point average among girls, but not among boys. Additional analyses suggest a positive view of the school environment and a perception of one’s self as functioning well in that environment as possible mechanisms. The effects are relatively broad based across students over maternal education, racial and ethnic composition and across schools that vary in demographic composition over the same variables.

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Jason and Fletcher, Jason M. and Ross, Stephen L. and Zhang, Yuxiu, The Consequences of Friendships: Evidence on the Effect of Social Relationships in School on Academic Achievement (July 2013). NBER Working Paper No. w19215. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2292835

Jason Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

Stephen L. Ross

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1063
Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

Yuxiu Zhang

Yale University ( email )

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