IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/ehbiol/v9y2011i2p119-132.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Peer effects and the Freshman 15: Evidence from a natural experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Yakusheva, Olga
  • Kapinos, Kandice
  • Weiss, Marianne

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Yakusheva, Olga & Kapinos, Kandice & Weiss, Marianne, 2011. "Peer effects and the Freshman 15: Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 119-132, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:9:y:2011:i:2:p:119-132
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570-677X(10)00110-3
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. Lakdawalla, Darius & Philipson, Tomas, 2009. "The growth of obesity and technological change," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 283-293, December.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2009. "Weight gain in adolescents and their peers," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 181-190, July.
    13. 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.
    14. Michael Kremer & Dan M. Levy, 2003. "Peer Effects and Alcohol Use Among College Students," NBER Working Papers 9876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. Johanne Boisjoly & Greg J. Duncan & Michael Kremer & Dan M. Levy & Jacque Eccles, 2006. "Empathy or Antipathy? The Impact of Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1890-1905, December.
    18. 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.
    19. 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.
    20. 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.
    21. 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.
    22. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2000:90:5:777-781_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. 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.
    24. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Fortin, Bernard & Yazbeck, Myra, 2015. "Peer effects, fast food consumption and adolescent weight gain," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 125-138.
    2. Charles L. Baum, 2017. "The Effects of College on Weight: Examining the “Freshman 15” Myth and Other Effects of College Over the Life Cycle," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 54(1), pages 311-336, February.
    3. Mooney, Stephen J. & El-Sayed, Abdulrahman M., 2016. "Stigma and the etiology of depression among the obese: An agent-based exploration," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 1-7.
    4. Trogdon, Justin G. & Allaire, Benjamin T., 2014. "The effect of friend selection on social influences in obesity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 15(C), pages 153-164.
    5. Kapinos, Kandice A. & Yakusheva, Olga & Eisenberg, Daniel, 2014. "Obesogenic environmental influences on young adults: Evidence from college dormitory assignments," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 12(C), pages 98-109.
    6. Gwozdz, Wencke & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso & Reisch, Lucia A. & Bammann, Karin & Eiben, Gabriele & Kourides, Yiannis & Kovács, Éva & Lauria, Fabio & Konstabel, Kenn & Santaliestra-Pasias, Alba M. & Vyncke, , 2015. "Peer effects on obesity in a sample of European children," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 18(C), pages 139-152.
    7. Cawley, John & Price, Joshua A., 2013. "A case study of a workplace wellness program that offers financial incentives for weight loss," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 794-803.
    8. Nie, Peng & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso & He, Xiaobo, 2015. "Peer effects on childhood and adolescent obesity in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 47-69.
    9. Baldwin, Kate & Bhavnani, Rikhil R., 2013. "Ancillary Experiments: Opportunities and Challenges," WIDER Working Paper Series 024, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    10. Gerald J. Pruckner & Thomas Schober & Katrin Zocher, 2017. "The company you keep - Health behavior among work peers," Economics working papers 2017-07, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    11. Katare, Bhagyashree, 2014. "Is Obesity Contagious? A Case Study of International Graduate Students," 2014 AAEA/EAAE/CAES Joint Symposium: Social Networks, Social Media and the Economics of Food, May 29-30, 2014, Montreal, Canada 165748, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Canadian Agricultural Economics Society;European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    12. repec:kap:theord:v:83:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s11238-017-9625-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Katare, Bhagyashree, 2015. "Is Obesity Contagious? Evidence from International Graduate Students (Revised)," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 199049, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    14. Asirvatham, Jebaraj & Thomsen, Michael & Nayga, Rodolfo M. Jr. & Rouse, Heather, 2014. "Peer-Effects on Childhood Obesity: An Instrumental Variables Approach on Exogenously Assigned Peers," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170387, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    15. Ryota Nakamura & Marc Suhrcke & Daniel John Zizzo, 2017. "A triple test for behavioral economics models and public health policy," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 83(4), pages 513-533, December.
    16. Baldwin Kate & Bhavnani Rikhil R., 2015. "Ancillary Studies of Experiments: Opportunities and Challenges," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 113-146, June.
    17. Averett, Susan L. & Terrizzi, Sabrina & Wang, Yang, 2013. "The Effect of Sorority Membership on Eating Disorders and Body Mass Index," IZA Discussion Papers 7512, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Zeng, Di & Thomsen, Michael R. & Nayga, Rodolfo M. & Rouse, Heather L., 2016. "Middle school transition and body weight outcomes: Evidence from Arkansas Public Schoolchildren," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 64-74.
    19. Asirvatham, Jebaraj & Nayga, Rodolfo M. Jr. & Thomsen, Michael R., 2013. "Peer-Effects on Childhood Obesity," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150417, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. 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). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964 .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.