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Peer Effects and Multiple Equilibria in the Risky Behavior of Friends

  • David Card

    (University of California Berkeley and NBER)

  • Laura Giuliano

    (University of Miami)

We study social interactions in the initiation of sex and other risky behaviors by best friend pairs in the Add Health panel. Focusing on friends with minimal experience at the baseline interview, we estimate bivariate ordered-choice models that include both peer effects and unobserved heterogeneity. We find significant peer effects in sexual initiation: the likelihood of initiating intercourse within a year increases by almost 5 percentage points (on an 11% base rate) if one's friend also initiates intercourse. Similar effects are present for smoking, marijuana use, and truancy. We find larger effects for females and important asymmetries in nonreciprocated friendships. © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2013)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 1130-1149

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:95:y:2013:i:4:p:1130-1149
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