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Estimating the Effects of Friendship Networks on Health Behaviors of Adolescents

Author

Listed:
  • Jason M. Fletcher

    (Yale University and Columbia University)

  • Stephen L. Ross

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

This paper estimates the effects of friends’ health behaviors, smoking and drinking, on own health behaviors for adolescents while controlling for the effects of correlated unobservables between those friends. Specifically, the effect of friends’ health behaviors is identified by comparing similar individuals who have the same friendship opportunities because they attend the same school and make similar friendship choices, under the assumption that the friendship choice reveals information about an individual’s unobservables. We combine this identification strategy with a cross-cohort, within school design so that the model is identified based on across grade differences in the clustering of health behaviors within specific friendship patterns. Finally, we use the estimated information on correlated unobservables to examine longitudinal data on the on-set of health behaviors, where the opportunity for reverse causality should be minimal. Our estimates for both behavior and on-set are very robust to bias from correlated unobservables.

Suggested Citation

  • Jason M. Fletcher & Stephen L. Ross, 2011. "Estimating the Effects of Friendship Networks on Health Behaviors of Adolescents," Working papers 2011-26, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2011-26
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    File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2011-26.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Fabio Landini & Natalia Montinari & Paolo Pin & Marco Piovesan, 2014. "Friendship Network in the Classroom: Parents Bias and Peer Effects," Discussion Papers 14-06, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    2. Stephen Billings & David Deming & Stephen L. Ross, 2016. "Partners in Crime: Schools, Neighborhoods and the Formation of Criminal Networks," Working Papers 2016-006, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. Landini, Fabio & Montinari, Natalia & Pin, Paolo & Piovesan, Marco, 2016. "Friendship network in the classroom: Parents bias on peer effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 56-73.
    4. Topa, Giorgio & Zenou, Yves, 2015. "Neighborhood and Network Effects," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Peer Effects; Friendship Networks; Adolescent Health; Smoking; Drinking; Cohort Study;

    JEL classification:

    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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