The Effects of Foreign-Born Peers in Us High Schools and Middle Schools

56 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2019 Last revised: 21 May 2021

See all articles by Jason Fletcher

Jason Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Jinho Kim

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)

Jenna Nobles

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Stephen L. Ross

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Irina Shaorshadze

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Date Written: November 2019

Abstract

The multi-decade growth and spatial dispersion of immigrant families in the United States has shifted the composition of US schools, reshaping the group of peers with whom students age through adolescence. US-born students are more likely to have foreign-born peers and foreign-born students are more likely to be educated outside of enclaves. This study examines the short-term and long-term impact of being educated with immigrant peers, for both US-born and foreign-born students. We leverage a quasi-experimental research design that uses across-grade, within-school variation in cohort composition for students in the Add Health study. We describe effects on a broad set of education, social, and health outcomes. For US-born students, we find little evidence that having immigrant peers affects a wide array of outcomes, either in adolescence or in adulthood. For foreign-born students, attending school with other immigrant students is protective against risky health behaviors and social isolation, relative to native born students. However, foreign-born students’ language skills measured with Picture-Vocabulary Test scores are negatively affected by attending school with a larger share of other immigrant students. The negative effect on vocabulary scores persists through young adulthood but does not translate into reductions in most longer-run socioeconomic outcomes, including earnings or the economic status of their residential neighborhoods.

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Jason and Kim, Jinho and Nobles, Jenna and Ross, Stephen L. and Shaorshadze, Irina, The Effects of Foreign-Born Peers in Us High Schools and Middle Schools (November 2019). NBER Working Paper No. w26491, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3492894

Jason Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Jinho Kim

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) ( email )

Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Jenna Nobles

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

Stephen L. Ross

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

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

Irina Shaorshadze

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

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