Is obesity contagious?: social networks vs. environmental factors in the obesity epidemic
AbstractThis note’s aim is to investigate the sensitivity of Christakis and Fowler’s claim (NEJM July 26, 2007) that obesity has spread through social networks. It is well known in the economics literature that failure to include contextual effects can lead to spurious inference on “social network effects.” We replicate the NEJM results using their specification and a complementary dataset. We find that point estimates of the “social network effect” are reduced and become statistically indistinguishable from zero once standard econometric techniques are implemented. We further note the presence of estimation bias resulting from use of an incorrectly specified dynamic model.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper with number QAU08-2.
Date of creation: 2008
Date of revision:
Other versions of this item:
- 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.
- NEP-ALL-2008-04-29 (All new papers)
- NEP-HEA-2008-04-29 (Health Economics)
- NEP-SOC-2008-04-29 (Social Norms & Social Capital)
- NEP-URE-2008-04-29 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
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