The Influence of Peer Genotypes and Behavior on Smoking Outcomes: Evidence from Add Health

51 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2017 Last revised: 22 May 2021

See all articles by Ramina Sotoudeh

Ramina Sotoudeh

Princeton University

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Kathleen Mullan Harris

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Sociology

Date Written: December 2017

Abstract

We introduce a novel use of genetic data for studying social influences on behavior: Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we deploy the distribution of genotypes in a given grade within a school to instrument the influence of peer smoking on an individual’s own smoking behavior. We argue that this design alleviates many problems inherent to estimating peer effects. Using this approach, we find the relationship between peer smoking and individual smoking to be larger than that estimated by prior studies. Further, we explore the reduced form relationship between peer genotypes and ego smoking and find that the impact of peers’ genetic risk for smoking on ego’s smoking behavior is at least half as large as the effect of individual’s own genotype and sex, and 30% the effect of age. Moreover, peer influence on smoking appears heterogeneous by race: although whites and non-whites are equally susceptible to peer influence with respect to smoking, white egos are more likely to be influenced by white alters. This analysis suggests a promising way that genetic information can be leveraged to identify peer effects that avoids the reflection problem, contextual effects and selection into peer groups.

Suggested Citation

Sotoudeh, Ramina and Conley, Dalton and Mullan Harris, Kathleen, The Influence of Peer Genotypes and Behavior on Smoking Outcomes: Evidence from Add Health (December 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w24113, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3089510

Ramina Sotoudeh (Contact Author)

Princeton University ( email )

22 Chambers Street
Princeton, NJ 08544-0708
United States

Dalton Conley

New York University (NYU) - Department of Sociology ( email )

New York, NY 10012
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Kathleen Mullan Harris

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Sociology ( email )

Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

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