IZA DP No. 1682: Friendship Relations in the School Class and Adult Economic Attainment
We analyze the impact of adolescents' friendship relations in their final-year class of high school on subsequent labor market success. Based on a typology of network positions we locate each student within the social system of the school class as either: an isolate, a sycophant, a broker or a receiver. These positions identify individuals' social standing within the group of classmates and proxy for their interpersonal behavior and social competencies. We offer empirical evidence that differential social standing in adolescence predicts large and persistent earnings disparities over the entire life course. The estimated wage premia and penalties do not appear to be substantially confounded by measures of family and school resources, and materialize largely independent of differences in cognitive abilities, grade rank in class, personality traits or friends' characteristics. A moderate share of the earnings inequalities is mediated by differential post-secondary human and social capital investment. From a conceptual point of view, we contribute an application of egocentered network methods within conventional labor economic survey research.