Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



American Journal of Education 114 (November 2007)


Copyright 2007 by The University of Chicago.


The dictum that “context matters” notwithstanding, few researchers have focused on how social capital affects educational outcomes for ethnic groups outside of the United States. Using German Socioeconomic Panel (GSOEP) data, analyses highlight the group-specific effects of parental social capital on track placement among 11–16-year-old German and non-German students. For both groups, parents’ family ties fail to affect track placement. Parents’ community ties have mixed effects. Among Germans, parental involvement in sports affects children’s tracking positively. Among non-Germans, parental socializing with peers affects track placement negatively, while parental involvement in religion-based community groups and interethnic ties with Germans improve track placement chances. We relate these findings to different strands of social capital theory.