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Peer effects and alcohol use among college students

Author

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  • Michael Kremer
  • Dan Levy

Abstract

This paper examines a natural experiment in which students at a large state university were randomly assigned roommates through a lottery system. We find that on average, males assigned to roommates who reported drinking in the year prior to entering college had one quarter-point lower GPA than those assigned to non-drinking roommates. The 10th percentile of their college GPA is half a point lower than among males assigned non-drinking roommates. For males who themselves drank frequently prior to college, assignment to a roommate who drank frequently prior to college reduces GPA by two-thirds of a point. Since students who drink frequently are particularly influenced by frequent-drinking roommates, substance-free housing programs could potentially lower average GPA by segregating drinkers. The effect of initial assignment to a drinking roommate persists and possibly even grows over time. In contrast, students' college GPA is not influenced by roommates' high school grades, admission test scores, or family background. Females' GPAs are not affected by roommates' drinking prior to college. Overall, these findings are more consistent with models in which peers change preferences than models in which they change endowments.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Kremer & Dan Levy, 2003. "Peer effects and alcohol use among college students," Natural Field Experiments 00286, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00286
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Laibson, 2001. "A Cue-Theory of Consumption," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 81-119.
    2. Becker, Gary S & Grossman, Michael & Murphy, Kevin M, 1994. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 396-418, June.
    3. 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.
    4. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics and Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. JEFF DeSIMONE, 2009. "Fraternity Membership And Drinking Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 47(2), pages 337-350, April.
    2. Stinebrickner Ralph & Stinebrickner Todd R., 2008. "The Causal Effect of Studying on Academic Performance," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-55, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Dominique Goux & Eric Maurin, 2007. "Close Neighbours Matter: Neighbourhood Effects on Early Performance at School," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(523), pages 1193-1215, October.
    5. Samuel Bowles & Glenn C. Loury & Rajiv Sethi, 2014. "Group Inequality," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(1), pages 129-152, February.
    6. Jonathan Meer, 2009. "Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Peer Effects in Charitable Solicitation," Discussion Papers 08-035, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    7. Samuel Bowles & Rajiv Sethi, 2006. "Social Segregation and the Dynamics of Group Inequality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2006-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    8. Kang, Changhui, 2007. "Classroom peer effects and academic achievement: Quasi-randomization evidence from South Korea," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 458-495, May.
    9. repec:pri:indrel:dsp01m613mx58m is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Patrick Bayer & Randi Hjalmarsson & David Pozen, 2009. "Building Criminal Capital behind Bars: Peer Effects in Juvenile Corrections," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 105-147.
    11. Juliana Guimarães & Breno Sampaio, 2013. "Family background and students’ achievement on a university entrance exam in Brazil," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 38-59, February.
    12. Baul, Tushi, 2013. "Self-selection and peer-effects in experimental labor markets," ISU General Staff Papers 201301010800004327, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    13. Kling, Jeffrey & Liebman, Jeffrey, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Paper Series rwp04-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    14. Kim, Young Chul, 2009. "Lifetime Network Externality and the Dynamics of Group Inequality," MPRA Paper 18767, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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