09 SES 11 B, Social Networks and Professional Cooperation
The analysis of social networks has become an issue of high relevance in several fields of the social sciences, for example to explain variations in educational success and social participation across the population. We present results from the project REdMig (Non-monetary Returns to Education of Migrants and Non-migrants), which investigates the effects of education on different outcomes of non-monetary nature, focusing on individuals' social inclusion as such an outcome – referring both to individuals' participation in the wider society and to their embeddedness in social networks. This contribution specifically focuses on the bias of estimates of educational effects on the composition of individuals' social networks, which may potentially result from ignoring the systematic correlation between respondents’ ability to correctly answer survey questions, level of education and the quality of individuals’ social networks.
Taking into account both the respondent burden and time constraints for interviews, different approaches have been developed to operationalize and collect information on egocentric social networks in survey settings, regarding both network size and quality. For example, some studies try to assess the actual network size by means of a name generator (e.g., PIAAC). Others collect detailed information on an a priori limited number of network members, such as on the members’ educational and migration background (e.g., NEPS).
Empirical studies point out that the proper measurement of network size by means of conventional survey instruments is quite difficult due to the adverse incentives both for respondents and interviewers (e.g., Marsden 2003, Paik and Sanchagrin 2013, Brüderl et al. 2013), whereas measures of network quality for a given maximum network size appear to be more reliable. The complexity of the concepts of network size and quality is not least reflected by the fact that survey instruments developed for their measurement frequently comprise highly complex questions. As such, apart from interviewer effects, both measures of network size and quality may be systematically affected by the respondents’ cognitive capacities (Bradburn 1979, Lenzener et al. 2010). As regards the estimation of educational effects on individuals’ embeddedness in social networks, this dependency might induce a spurious correlation between measures of education and network size and/or quality.
Our analysis investigates the extent to which the occurrence of errors in self-administered questionnaires is systematically related to the respondents’ cognitive abilities and, as such, educational background, and may hence result in systematically biased estimates of the effect of education on individuals’ level of social inclusion. Taking into account that migrants may be less familiar with conventional survey instruments than natives as well as potential effects of complex language structures of survey instruments, we further investigate whether this bias systematically differs across native and migrant students. Our analyses demonstrate that ignoring the selection caused by complex instruments to assess the size and quality of social networks may heavily bias the estimates of the effect on education on the quality of individuals’ social networks, and that this bias systematically differs across population subgroups even when controlling for track of schooling.
Bradburn, N. (1979): Respondent burden. In Reeder, L. (Ed.): Health Survey Research Methods: Second Biennial Conference, Williamsburg, VA. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Lenzner, T., L. Kaczmirek, and A. Lenzner (2010): Cognitive Burden of Survey Questions and Response Times: A Psycholinguistic Experiment. Applied Cognitive Psychology 24(7): 1003-1020. Marsden, P.V. (2003): Interviewer Effect in Measuring Network Size Using a Single Name Generator, Social Networks 25, 1-16. Paik, A. and K. Sanchagrin (2013): Social Isolation in America: An Artefact, American Sociological Review 78(3), 339-360. DOI: 10.1177/00031224123482919.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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