Social Interactions and Smoking: Evidence Using Multiple Student Cohorts, Instrumental Variables, and School Fixed Effects

34 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2007

See all articles by Jason M. Fletcher

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Date Written: December 10, 2007

Abstract

In this paper, I use a social interactions framework to detect whether individual smoking decisions are influenced by classmate smoking decisions. There are several large challenges in addressing this question, including the endogeneity of school (and thus classmates) through residential location choices, 'third factors' such as school-level unobservables that influence individual and classmate choices simultaneously, and the difficulty of the identification of parameters in empirical models of social interactions (Manski 1993, Brock and Durlauf 2001). In order to address these issues, I use an instrumental variables/fixed effects methodology that compares students in different grades within the same high school who face a different set of classmates and classmates' decisions. Preferred specifications suggest that increasing the proportion of classmates who smoke by 10% will increase the likelihood an individual smokes by approximately 3 percentage points. I compare these results with previous findings that are unable to use school fixed effects and/or use potentially invalid instruments and find that the current results suggest smaller social interactions in adolescent smoking decisions than some previous work.

Keywords: Peer Effects, Social Interactions, Smoking

JEL Classification: I12, I10

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Jason M., Social Interactions and Smoking: Evidence Using Multiple Student Cohorts, Instrumental Variables, and School Fixed Effects (December 10, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1069912 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1069912

Jason M. Fletcher (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

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