Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Fletcher Receives Grant to Study The Social Networks of Immigrant Students

Jason Fletcher Jason Fletcher

-by Mark Japinga

La Follette School Associate Professor of Public Affairs Jason Fletcher has received a grant to support his work on how peer networks can reduce inequality in socioeconomic and educational outcomes for both immigrant and non-immigrant students.

The grant, which Fletcher will share with UW-Madison sociology professor Jenna Nobles, was given by the William T. Grant Foundation. The foundation invests in research designed to improve the lives of young people in America, and the grant was awarded specifically as a part of an initiative on reducing inequality.

Fletcher and Nobles’ study, “Understanding the Determinants and Consequences of Social Net-works Among Immigrant Children and Adolescents,” focuses on how first and second generation adolescent immigrants come to behave like native-born students. Specifically, the researchers want to learn more about the consequences of having immigrant versus non-immigrant social ties, and how these decisions may impact one’s education and future prospects.

“It’s not always a 'good thing' to behave like native born students, because immigrant adolescents are typically healthier and pursue fewer risky health behaviors (like binge drinking) than U.S. born adolescents,” Fletcher says. “On the other hand, immigrant adolescents do not attain as much education as the native born do. We ask how high school friendship networks might be a key mechanism in these transitions across generational status, comparing the friendship patterns of first and second generation students to those of third generation students.”

The project combines Nobles’ past work and expertise in immigrant family processes and Fletcher’s expertise in social network analysis and peer effects.