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Social networks and vaccination decisions

Author

Listed:
  • Neel Rao
  • Markus M. Möbius
  • Tanya Rosenblat

Abstract

We combine information on social networks with medical records and survey data in order to examine how friends affect one’s decision to get vaccinated against the flu. The random assignment of undergraduates to residential halls at a large private university allows us to estimate how peer effects influence health beliefs and vaccination choices. Our results indicate that social exposure to medical information raises people’s perceptions of the benefits of immunization. The average student’s belief about the vaccine’s health value increases by $5.00 when an additional 10 percent of her friends are assigned to residences that host inoculation clinics. Among students with no recent flu experience, a 10 percent rise in the number of friends living in residences with clinics raises cumulative valuations of the vaccine by $10.92, with 85 percent of this increase attributable to heightened perceptions about the medical benefits of immunization. We also find evidence of positive peer effects on individuals’ vaccination decisions. A student becomes up to 8.3 percentage points more likely to get immunized if an additional 10 percent of her friends receive flu shots. Furthermore, the excess clustering of friends at inoculation clinics suggests that students coordinate their vaccination decisions with their friends.

Suggested Citation

  • Neel Rao & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat, 2007. "Social networks and vaccination decisions," Working Papers 07-12, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:07-12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters,in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Case, A.C. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "The Company You Keep: The Effects Of Family And Neighborhood On Disadvantaged Younths," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1555, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    8. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
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    10. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-991, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sorensen, Andrea Lockhart, 2015. "Asymmetry, uncertainty, and limits in a binary choice experiment with positive spillovers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 43-55.
    2. Stephen Leider & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat & Quoc-Anh Do, 2010. "What Do We Expect from Our Friends?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(1), pages 120-138, March.
    3. de Janvry, Alain & Sadoulet, Elisabeth & Villas-Boas, Sofia, 2010. "Short on shots: Are calls for cooperative restraint effective in managing a flu vaccines shortage?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, pages 209-224.
    4. Godlonton, Susan & Thornton, Rebecca, 2012. "Peer effects in learning HIV results," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 118-129.
    5. Bennett, Daniel & Chiang, Chun-Fang & Malani, Anup, 2015. "Learning during a crisis: The SARS epidemic in Taiwan," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 1-18.

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    Keywords

    Stochastic analysis ; Human behavior ; Altruism ; Medical care;

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