A Dynamic Model of Friendship Choice, Academic Achievement and Race

Jennifer Flashman, University of Oxford

Disparities in achievement exist across race and ethnicity. Many argue that disparities result from an oppositional culture among minorities towards school and achievement; high-achieving minorities are rejected by their peers because of their achievement and pro-school norms. These students then decrease their achievement to gain acceptance. As a consequence, the average level of achievement among minorities declines and disparities across race and ethnicity grow. Although several studies attempt to document this process, these studies are limited by their cross-sectional approach. To demonstrate causality in the relationship between oppositional culture and minority under-achievement, a dynamic approach is necessary. Using continuous-time Markov chain models and data from Add Health, I show how changes in achievement affect changes in friendships. This approach enables me to observe whether high-achieving black and Latino adolescents have fewer friends than their lower-achieving counterparts, change their level of achievement over time, and increase their number of friends as they decrease their achievement.

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Presented in Poster Session 2