Estimating Peer Effects on Health in Social Networks

16 Pages Posted: 17 Jul 2008 Last revised: 2 Sep 2008

See all articles by James H. Fowler

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health

Nicholas A. Christakis

Harvard University - Department of Health Care Policy

Date Written: June 30, 2008

Abstract

We recently showed that obesity can spread socially from person to person in adults (Christakis and Fowler 2007). A natural question to ask is whether or not these results generalize to a population of adolescents. Three separate teams of researchers have analyzed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and shown evidence of person-to-peron spread of obesity, but they use different methods and disagree on the interpretation of their results. Here, we conduct our own analysis of the Add Health data, provide additional evidence from the Framingham Heart Study on the social spread of obesity, and use Monte Carlo simulations to test the econometric methods we use to model peer effects. The results show that the existence of peer effects in body mass is robust to several specifications in both adults and in adolescents.

Suggested Citation

Fowler, James H. and Christakis, Nicholas A., Estimating Peer Effects on Health in Social Networks (June 30, 2008). Journal of Health Economics, Vol. 27, No. 5, pp. 1400-1405, September 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1162213

James H. Fowler (Contact Author)

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health ( email )

La Jolla, CA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

Nicholas A. Christakis

Harvard University - Department of Health Care Policy ( email )

25 Shattuck Street
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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