Benjamin Schulz, Lars Leszczensky
Native Friends and Host Country Identification Among Adolescent Immigrants in Germany: The Role of Ethnic Boundaries

International Migration Review, 2016: 50, issue 1, pp. 163-196
ISSN: 0197-9183 (print); 1747-7379 (online)

Many studies find that high shares of native friends are positively related to immigrant youths' identification with the host country. By examining various immigrant groups together, these studies imply that having native friends matters in the same way for the national identification in different immigrant groups. In contrast, we argue that the extent to which having native friends affects immigrants' national identification depends on both immigrant group characteristics and the receiving context, especially on ethnic boundaries and related group differences in perceived discrimination and the compatibility of ethnic and national identities. Analyses based on data from the National Educational Panel Study in Germany that are representative of 15-year-old adolescents in secondary schools indeed reveal pronounced group differences: While national identification of ethnic German repatriates as well as of adolescents of former Yugoslavian and Southern European origin is related to the share of native friends, as hypothesized, we do not find this association for immigrants of Turkish and Polish origin. Our finding underlines the importance of theoretically as well as empirically accounting for group differences.