Peer Networks, Generational Status and Achievement of American Adolescents

Igor Ryabov


The present study attempted to address the gap in the literature by focusing on peer network density and
heterogeneity and average achievement of peers. These outcome variables were academic achievement and
attainment, measured as Grade Point Average (GPA) and odds of having college education, respectively. The
independent variables also included immigrant generational status, family social capital measures, and SES. The
study used multilevel, hierarchical modeling to estimate the aforementioned effects. The sample was drawn from
the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Waves I and III; N=14,322). Results revealed that
structural characteristic of peer networks, such as density and heterogeneity, were associated with academic
outcomes, regardless of generational status. Furthermore, the relationship between the peer network variables –
peer network density, heterogeneity and average peer achievement – and academic outcomes was stronger for
immigrant youths than for native youths. Of the aforementioned measures, average peer achievement had the
strongest effect on both achievement and attainment.

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Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology   ISSN 1927-0526 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0534 (Online)

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