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Is poor fitness contagious?

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Author Info

  • Carrell, Scott E.
  • Hoekstra, Mark
  • West, James E.

Abstract

The increase in obesity over the past 30 years has led researchers to investigate the role of social networks as a contributing factor. However, several challenges make it difficult to demonstrate a causal link between friends’ physical fitness and own fitness using observational data. To overcome these problems, we exploit data from a unique setting in which individuals are randomly assigned to peer groups. We find statistically significant positive peer effects that are roughly half as large as the own effect of prior fitness on current fitness. Evidence suggests that the effects are caused primarily by friends who were the least fit, thus supporting the provocative notion that poor physical fitness spreads on a person-to-person basis.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272710002070
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 7 ()
Pages: 657-663

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:7:p:657-663

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

Related research

Keywords: Peer effects; Physical fitness; Obesity; Social networks;

References

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  1. Michael Kremer & Dan Levy, 2008. "Peer Effects and Alcohol Use among College Students," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(3), pages 189-206, Summer.
  2. Zimmerman, David J., 1999. "Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence From a Natural Experiment," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-52, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  3. Burkhauser, Richard V. & Cawley, John, 2008. "Beyond BMI: The value of more accurate measures of fatness and obesity in social science research," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 519-529, March.
  4. David S. Lyle, 2007. "Estimating and Interpreting Peer and Role Model Effects from Randomly Assigned Social Groups at West Point," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 289-299, May.
  5. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2005. "What Can Be Learned About Peer Effects Using College Roommates? Evidence From New Survey Data and Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20054, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  6. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects With Random Assignment: Results For Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704, May.
  7. Scott E. Carrell & Frederick V. Malmstrom & James E. West, 2008. "Peer Effects in Academic Cheating," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(1).
  8. Cohen-Cole, Ethan & Fletcher, Jason M., 2008. "Is obesity contagious? Social networks vs. environmental factors in the obesity epidemic," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1382-1387, September.
  9. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine V. L?ken & Magne Mogstad, 2014. "Peer Effects in Program Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2049-74, July.
  2. Goulão, Catarina & Thibault, Emmanuel, 2013. "Physical Activity and Policy Recommendations: a Social Multiplier Approach," TSE Working Papers 13-414, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE).
  3. Babcock, Philip & Bedard, Kelly & Charness, Gary & Hartman, John & Royer, Heather, 2012. "Letting Down the Team? Social Effects of Team Incentives," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt93n646db, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  4. Camila Campos & Sean Hargreaves Heap & Fernanda L L de Leon, 2013. "The Political Influence of Peer Groups: Experimental Evidence from the Classroom," University of East Anglia Applied and Financial Economics Working Paper Series 053, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..

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