Peer effects and the Freshman 15: Evidence from a natural experiment
This study investigates the importance of peer effects in explaining weight gain among freshman college students. We exploit a natural experiment that takes place on most college campuses in the US - randomized roommate assignments. While previous studies suggest that having an obese spouse, friend, or sibling increases one's likelihood of becoming obese, these social interactions are clearly non-random. We collect data from female students living on campus at a private Midwestern university at the beginning and end of their first year of college. Our findings suggest that the amount of weight gained during the freshman year is strongly and negatively correlated to the roommate's initial weight. Further, our analysis of behaviors suggests that female students adopt some of their roommates' weight-loss behaviors which cause them to gain less weight than they otherwise would have. In particular, we find evidence that this effect may be through influences in eating, exercise, and use of weight loss supplements.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- David Rosenblum & Preston Hillman & David J. Zimmerman, 2004. "Institutional Ethos, Peers and Individual Outcomes," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-68, Department of Economics, Williams College.
- Lundborg, Petter, 2006. "Having the wrong friends? Peer effects in adolescent substance use," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 214-233, March.
- Edward C. Norton & Richard C. Lindrooth & Susan T. Ennett, 1998. "Controlling for the endogeneity of peer substance use on adolescent alcohol and tobacco use," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 7(5), pages 439-453.
- Lakdawalla, Darius & Philipson, Tomas, 2009. "The growth of obesity and technological change," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 283-293, December.
- Ethan Cohen-Cole & Jason M. Fletcher, 2008.
"Is obesity contagious?: social networks vs. environmental factors in the obesity epidemic,"
Risk and Policy Analysis Unit Working Paper
QAU08-2, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
- 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.
- Shapiro, Jesse & Glaeser, Edward & Cutler, David, 2003.
"Why Have Americans Become More Obese,"
2640583, Harvard University Department of Economics.
- David Cutler & Edward Glaeser & Jesse Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," NBER Working Papers 9446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1994, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
- Clark, Andrew E. & Lohéac, Youenn, 2005.
""It Wasn't Me, It Was Them!" - Social Influence in Risky Behavior by Adolescents,"
IZA Discussion Papers
1573, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Clark, Andrew E. & Loheac, Youenn, 2007. ""It wasn't me, it was them!" Social influence in risky behavior by adolescents," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 763-784, July.
- Clark, Andrew E & Youenn Loheac, 2003. ""It Wasn't Me, It Was Them!" Social Influence in Risky Behaviour by Adolescents," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2003 44, Royal Economic Society.
- Trogdon, Justin G. & Nonnemaker, James & Pais, Joanne, 2008. "Peer effects in adolescent overweight," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1388-1399, September.
- Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2009.
"Weight gain in adolescents and their peers,"
Economics & Human Biology,
Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 181-190, July.
- 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, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP) Working Papers
20054, University of Western Ontario, Centre for Human Capital and Productivity (CHCP).
- Stinebrickner, Ralph & Stinebrickner, Todd R., 2006. "What can be learned about peer effects using college roommates? Evidence from new survey data and students from disadvantaged backgrounds," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1435-1454, September.
- Michael Kremer & Dan M. Levy, 2003. "Peer Effects and Alcohol Use Among College Students," NBER Working Papers 9876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Alejandro Gaviria & Steven Raphael, 2001. "School-Based Peer Effects And Juvenile Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 257-268, May.
- Johanne Boisjoly & Greg Duncan & Jacque Eccles & Michael Kremer & Dan Levy, 2004.
"Empathy or antipathy? The impact of diversity,"
Natural Field Experiments
00220, The Field Experiments Website.
- Fowler, J.H. & Christakis, N.A., 2008. "Estimating peer effects on health in social networks: A response to Cohen-Cole and Fletcher; and Trogdon, Nonnemaker, and Pais," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 1400-1405, September.
- Powell, Lisa M. & Tauras, John A. & Ross, Hana, 2005. "The importance of peer effects, cigarette prices and tobacco control policies for youth smoking behavior," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 950-968, September.
- 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.
- David J. Zimmerman, 2003. "Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 9-23, February.
- Charles F. Manski, 1993.
"Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem,"
Review of Economic Studies,
Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
- Manski, C.F., 1991. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: the Reflection Problem," Working papers 9127, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Bruce Sacerdote, 2000.
"Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates,"
NBER Working Papers
7469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
- 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.
- John Cawley & Richard V. Burkhauser, 2006. "Beyond BMI: The Value of More Accurate Measures of Fatness and Obesity in Social Science Research," NBER Working Papers 12291, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-991, October.
- 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.
- Foster, Gigi, 2006. "It's not your peers, and it's not your friends: Some progress toward understanding the educational peer effect mechanism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1455-1475, September.
- Pencavel, John, 1998. "Assortative Mating by Schooling and the Work Behavior of Wives and Husbands," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 326-329, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:9:y:2011:i:2:p:119-132. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.