Why it’s good for kids to have friends from different socioeconomic backgrounds

Our results suggest cross-class friendships may in part help level the academic playing field during the middle school years, when socioeconomic achievement disparities can widen. Middle school is also a time when preteens and teens become increasingly independent from their parents and rely more on friends.

Just as greater school ethnic diversity has been shown to promote the formation of cross-ethnic friendships, school socioeconomic diversity likely facilitates cross-class friendships. That is, when students from different backgrounds share classes, they are more likely to become friends. …

We also hope to investigate possible social outcomes associated with cross-class friendship. For example, just as cross-ethnic friendships improve attitudes toward other ethnic groups, cross-class ties, we believe, may play a critical role in reducing negative class-based stereotypes and promoting mutual understanding among young people from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

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