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Peer-Effects In Obesity Among Public School Children: A Grade-Level Analysis

  • Asirvatham, Jebaraj
  • Nayga, Rodolfo M., Jr.
  • Thomsen, Michael R.

We examine the role of peer effects in childhood obesity outcomes by investigating whether obesity rates among the highest graders in a public school has an effect on obesity rates among younger grades. We use a panel dataset with obesity prevalence measured at the grade level. Our data are from Arkansas public schools. Results provide evidence that changes in the obesity prevalence at the highest grade are associated with changes in obesity prevalence at younger grades. The magnitude of the peer effect depends on the type of school, and we find statistically significant peer effects in both elementary and high schools but not in middle schools. These effects are also larger in high schools than in elementary schools. We use falsification tests to provide evidence that these peer effects are more than just a statistical correlation or an association.

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File URL: http://purl.umn.edu/122732
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Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2012 AAEA/EAAE Food Environment Symposium, May 30-31, Boston, MA with number 122732.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ags:aaeafe:122732
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  1. Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2009. "Weight gain in adolescents and their peers," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 181-190, July.
  2. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J. & van Landeghem, Bert, 2009. "Imitative Obesity and Relative Utility," IZA Discussion Papers 4010, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2011. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-33, April.
  4. 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.
  5. Victor Lavy & Anal�a Schlosser, 2011. "Corrigendum: Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 268-268, July.
  6. 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.
  7. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2002. "The Social Multiplier," NBER Working Papers 9153, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Philip J. Cook & Robert MacCoun & Clara Muschkin & Jacob Vigdor, 2008. "The negative impacts of starting middle school in sixth grade," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(1), pages 104-121.
  11. Halliday, Timothy J. & Kwak, Sally, 2008. "What Is a Peer? The Role of Network Definitions in Estimation of Endogenous Peer Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 3335, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Kelly Bedard & Chau Do, 2005. "Are Middle Schools More Effective?: The Impact of School Structure on Student Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
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