Social Networks and Vaccination Decisions

50 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2007

See all articles by Neel Rao

Neel Rao

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Markus M. Mobius

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information; Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft Research New England; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Tanya Rosenblat

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information

Date Written: November 6, 2007

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.

Keywords: social networks, peer effects, economic experiments, random assignment, vaccination

JEL Classification: C73, C91, D64

Suggested Citation

Rao, Neel and Mobius, Markus M. and Rosenblat, Tanya, Social Networks and Vaccination Decisions (November 6, 2007). FRB of Boston Working Paper No. 07-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1073143 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1073143

Neel Rao

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

No Address Available

Markus M. Mobius

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information ( email )

304 West Hall
550 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1092
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.markusmobius.org

Microsoft Corporation - Microsoft Research New England ( email )

One Memorial Drive, 14th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.markusmobius.org

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.markusmobius.org

Tanya Rosenblat (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - School of Information ( email )

304 West Hall
550 East University
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1092
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.tanyarosenblat.org

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