Friday, May 02, 2008

Social interactions & smoking

This paper by David Cutler and Edward Glaeser is worth a look.

Abstract: Are individuals more likely to smoke when they are surrounded by smokers? In this paper, we examine the evidence for peer effects in smoking. We address the endogeneity of peers by looking at the impact of workplace smoking bans on spousal and peer group smoking. Using these bans as an instrument, we find that individuals whose spouses smoke are 40% more likely to smoke themselves. We also find evidence for the existence of a social multiplier in that the impact of smoking bans and individual income becomes stronger at higher levels of aggregation. This social multiplier could explain the large time series drop in smoking among some demographic groups.
The basic idea is that smoking is a social activity – people like to smoke with others. It confirms other work already cited on this blog that eliminating smoking by individuals has positive direct effects and positive indirect effects of stopping others to smoker.

Incidentally I find it strange that the Cutler/Glaeser study does not refer to earlier work published in a widely-respected journal. I have noticed this before among US economists.

5 comments:

Spiros said...

"Incidentally I find it strange that the Cutler/Glaeser study does not refer to the earlier work published in a widely-respected journal."

Harry, would that work - and this is just a guess, 'cos I don't know - be yours?

hc said...

No it is this. I have now included it is the post also.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

harry I've noticed a tendency by economists to come up with breathless new findings that completely ignore long established knowledge in other fields. Especially psychology where economists seem to wont to pontificate. Is there any particular reason for this? It seems to me pretty simple - many economists aren't well and widely read.

I'm not having a dig at you - as far as I can see your D&A and Smoking stuff is actually improving in casting a wide net.

hc said...

fxh, Probably economists recognise the insight about interaction effects by psychologists but they would claim to be the first to have empirical evidence for it.

But your general remarks are fair comment. The fact of interaction effectsa is well-known and you do sometimes wonder if economists are really trying to do something new or just to show off their stats tools. Some froth at the mouth if they learn of new data sets.

pcsolotto said...

Such a nice blog. I hope you will create another post like this.