• A
  • A
  • A
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • ABC
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
  • А
Regular version of the site

Working paper

Schools are segregated by educational outcomes in the digital space

The Internet provides students with a unique opportunity to connect and maintain social ties with peers from other schools, irrespective of how far they are from each other. However, little is known about the real structure of such online relationships. In this paper, we investigate the structure of interschool friendship on a popular social networking site. We use data from 36,951 students from 590 schools of a large European city. We find that the probability of a friendship tie between students from neighboring schools is high and that it decreases with the distance between schools following the power law. We also find that students are more likely to be connected if the educational outcomes of their schools are similar. We show that this fact is not a consequence of residential segregation. While high- and low-performing schools are evenly distributed across the city, this is not the case for the digital space, where schools turn out to be segregated by educational outcomes. There is no significant correlation between the educational outcomes of a school and its geographical neighbors; however, there is a strong correlation between the educational outcomes of a school and its digital neighbors. These results challenge the common assumption that the Internet is a borderless space, and may have important implications for the understanding of educational inequality in the digital age.