Who's Affecting Who? Obesity Peer Effects in NYC Public Schools

33 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2022

See all articles by Jonathan Presler

Jonathan Presler

Saint Louis University - Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research

Date Written: August 30, 2022

Abstract

Obesity rates continue to climb in the US. Recent work explores social factors that may contribute to these trends, including social norms. Most work in this area focuses on adults and older youth, missing key early years. This paper explores obesity peer effects in New York City schools for students in grades 1-12. Using student fixed effects, I address issues common in the peer effects literature, such as selection and reflection, to estimate causal effects of social norms on student Body Mass Index (BMI). I explore heterogeneity by race, gender, and grade level. Using unconditional quantile regressions, I show that peer effects decline in BMI. This means that students with obesity are less influenced by social norms in BMI than students with healthy weights. My results imply that small social effects in BMI exist, but policymakers hoping to harness social effects to improve BMI should instead view them as an obstacle to be overcome.

Keywords: Peer Effects, Obesity, Spillovers, Children, Adolescents

JEL Classification: I12, I21, D62

Suggested Citation

Presler, Jonathan, Who's Affecting Who? Obesity Peer Effects in NYC Public Schools (August 30, 2022). Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research Working Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4213810 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4213810

Jonathan Presler (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University - Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research ( email )

3700 West Pine Mall Blvd. Fusz Hall, 358
St. Louis, MO 63103
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
35
Abstract Views
391
PlumX Metrics