Asymmetric peer effects in the analysis of cigarette smoking among young people in the United States, 1992-1999
We extend the recent literature on peer effects to test the possible role of asymmetric social influences in the determination of youth smoking. We analyzed cigarette smoking among people aged 15-24 in approximately 90,000 households in the 1992-1999 U.S. Current Population Surveys. The presence of additional smoking sibling in a household, we estimated, raised a young person's probability of smoking by 7.6%, while each non-smoking sibling lowered the probability by an estimated 3.5%. Moreover, the overall deterrent effect of an increase in cigarette price on the probability of smoking was approximately 60% greater than the estimated effect when peer influences were held constant. The concept of asymmetric social influence may have applications in other fields, including labor economics, education, crime prevention, and group dynamics.
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