The Integration of Immigrant Youth in Schools and Friendship Networks

Abstract

This study examines the degree to which immigrant youth are integrated in school settings at the dyadic (reciprocity and isolation), network (popularity, centrality, social status), and institutional levels (connection to school, extracurricular activities). The study includes 43,123 youth across 64 schools with immigrant populations from the 1994–1995 Wave I in-school survey of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). Survey-weighted logistic, negative binomial, and linear regression models were used to estimate the effects of race/ethnicity, immigrant generation, friendship composition, and school composition on integration at dyadic, network, and institutional levels. In general, the success of second-generation youth in navigating their school social contexts provides evidence of positive processes of immigrant integration. However, important differences across racial and ethnic groups suggest that these successes are most prominent for Asian youth, while other groups may not experience processes of social integration equally. In addition, same race/ethnicity friendships functioned to facilitate social integration, while same-generation friendships placed youth from immigrant families at increased risk for marginalization. Results highlight the need for schools to consider how to build connections across immigrant generations and to draw on the strengths of immigrant youth to contribute to school communities.

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Reynolds, A.D., Crea, T.M. The Integration of Immigrant Youth in Schools and Friendship Networks. Popul Res Policy Rev 36, 501–529 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11113-017-9434-4

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Keywords

  • Immigrant youth
  • Social networks
  • Immigrant integration
  • Schools
  • Social capital
  • Assimilation