Research in Higher Education

, Volume 56, Issue 3, pp 203–227 | Cite as

Greek Organization Membership and Collegiate Outcomes at an Elite, Private University

  • Jay K. Walker
  • Nathan D. Martin
  • Andrew Hussey


In this study, we use detailed survey and institutional data from a prospective panel study of students attending a highly selective, private university to examine the effects of fraternity or sorority membership on a range of collegiate outcomes. Previous research has given insufficient attention to selection issues inherent in the study of voluntary associations, and thus prior work likely overstates the impact of Greek membership. We use propensity score matching methods to isolate a more appropriate counterfactual or control group and to provide a more rigorous test of the effects of being a Greek member. Among our primary results, we find that fraternity and sorority members are more likely to be white, have more advantaged social origins, and arrive on campus placing greater emphasis on maintaining an active social life in comparison to students who do not join Greek organizations. Although Greeks assign greater importance to being a social person and report a more prominent role of alcohol and drugs in their enjoyment of campus life than do non-Greeks, these differences are attributable to pre-treatment characteristics. After accounting for selection effects, we find that Greek membership leads to higher levels of involvement in and satisfaction with campus social life, and predicts higher graduation rates and degree persistence.


Achievement Elite education Fraternities and sororities Selection effects Student involvement 



The Campus Life and Learning data were collected by A.Y. Bryant, Claudia Buchmann, and Kenneth I. Spenner (Principal Investigators), with support provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Duke University. The authors bear full responsibility for the contents herein.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jay K. Walker
    • 1
  • Nathan D. Martin
    • 2
  • Andrew Hussey
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Economics and FinanceNiagara UniversityLewistonUSA
  2. 2.School of Social TransformationArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of MemphisMemphisUSA

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