The Social Costs of Academic Success Across Ethnic Groups


  • This research uses data from Add Health, a program project designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris, and funded by Grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 17 other agencies. Special acknowledgment is due to Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design. Persons interested in obtaining data files from Add Health should contact Add Health, Carolina Population Center, 123 W. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2524 ( No direct support was received from Grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.

concerning this article should be addressed to Thomas E. Fuller-Rowell, Department of Psychology, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, 426 Thompson Street, #5132, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Electronic mail may be sent to or


This study explores the longitudinal association between academic achievement and social acceptance across ethnic groups in a nationally representative sample of adolescents (= 13,570; Mage = 15.5 years). The effects of school context are also considered. Results show that African American and Native American adolescents experience greater social costs with academic success than Whites. Pertaining to school context, findings suggest that the differential social consequences of achievement experienced by African Americans are greatest in more highly achieving schools, but only when these schools have a smaller percentage of Black students. Students from Mexican descent also showed differential social costs with achievement in particular contexts. The implications of these findings to theory, policy, and future research are discussed.