American Sociological Association

The Role of Intergenerational Networks in Students’ School Performance in Two Differentiated Educational Systems: A Comparison of Between- and Within-Individual Estimates

In this article, we study the relationship between intergenerational networks in classrooms (i.e., relationships among parents in classrooms, and between parents and their children’s classmates) and students’ grades. Using panel data on complete classroom networks of approximately 3,000 adolescents and their parents in approximately 200 classes in both Germany and the Netherlands, we compare estimates based on between-student differences in intergenerational networks (i.e., between-individual estimates) to estimates based on changes students experience in their intergenerational networks over time (i.e., within-individual estimates). We also examine how the relationship between intergenerational networks and grades is contingent on students’ location in the educational system (i.e., their ability track). When considering between-individual estimates, we find some support for a positive relationship between intergenerational networks and grades. However, we find no robust support when considering within-individual estimates. The findings suggest that between-individual estimates, which most previous research has relied on, may be confounded by unobserved differences across individuals. We find little support for variations in these estimates across ability tracks. We discuss the implications for Coleman’s social capital theory on intergenerational closure.


Sara Geven and Herman G. van de Werfhorst





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