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Estimates of peer effects in adolescent smoking across twenty six European Countries

  • McVicar, Duncan

Although it is widely believed that one of the key factors influencing whether an adolescent smokes or not is the smoking behaviour of his or her peers, empirical evidence on the magnitude of such peer effects, and even on their existence, is mixed. This existing evidence comes from a range of studies using a variety of country-specific data sources and a variety of identification strategies. This paper exploits a rich source of individual level, school-based, survey data on adolescent substance use across countries – the 2007 European Schools Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs – to provide estimates of peer effects between classmates in adolescent smoking for 75,000 individuals across 26 European countries, using the same methods in each case. The results suggest statistically significant peer effects in almost all cases. These peer effects estimates are large: on average across countries, the probability that a ‘typical’ adolescent smokes increases by between.31 and.38 percentage points for a one percentage point increase in the proportion of classmates that smoke. Further, estimated peer effects in adolescent smoking are stronger intra-gender than inter-gender. They also vary across countries: in Belgium, for example, a one percentage point increase in reference group smoking is associated with a.16 to.27 percentage point increase in own smoking probability; in the Netherlands the corresponding increase is between.42 and.59 percentage points.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

Volume (Year): 73 (2011)
Issue (Month): 8 ()
Pages: 1186-1193

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Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:8:p:1186-1193
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  1. 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.
  2. Jason M. Fletcher, 2010. "Social interactions and smoking: evidence using multiple student cohorts, instrumental variables, and school fixed effects," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 466-484.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Cutler, David & Glaeser, Edward L., 2008. "Social Interactions and Smoking," Working Paper Series rwp08-018, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  7. Brian Krauth, 2005. "Peer effects and selection effects on smoking among Canadian youth," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 735-757, August.
  8. Anindya Sen, 2009. "Estimating the impacts of household behavior on youth smoking: evidence from Ontario, Canada," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 189-218, June.
  9. Griesbach, Dawn & Amos, Amanda & Currie, Candace, 2003. "Adolescent smoking and family structure in Europe," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 41-52, January.
  10. Maes, Lea & Lievens, John, 2003. "Can the school make a difference? A multilevel analysis of adolescent risk and health behaviour," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 517-529, February.
  11. 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).
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