School Racial-Ethnic Composition and the Formation of Romantic Relationships outside of Schools: A Test of Structural Sociological Propositions

Kate W. Strully, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY)

Studies show that individuals in diverse institutions (e.g., schools) are more likely to form cross-race-ethnicity relationships with other members of the institution (e.g., fellow students). However, few studies consider whether institutional diversity may also lead people to form more relationships outside of the institution. Using data about adolescent romantic relationships from the first two waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, this analysis explores whether diverse schools are weaker foci for student relationships, and whether some students respond to institutional diversity by forming same-race-ethnicity relationships outside of institutional boundaries. Results show that white and black respondent with fewer opportunities for same-race-ethnicity relationships inside theirs schools are more likely to form relationships with individuals from outside their schools, particularly with individuals from their own racial-ethnic group. Results suggest that the potential for institutional integration to reduce social distance across groups is likely to be more varied than often assumed.

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Presented in Poster Session 9