‘If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?’ This is a common parenting phrase is meant to motivate kids to reject peer’s actions that are bad behaviors. While this blogger will not comment how effective this parenting phrase is, peer effects are real.
Consider the recent NBER working paper by Finkelstein, Gentzkow, and William (2019). They find that peer effects are real in the case of opioid abuse:
… movement to a county with a 20 percent higher rate of opioid abuse (equivalent to a move from a 25th to 75th percentile county) increases rates of opioid abuse by 4.5 percent, suggesting that roughly 20 percent of the gap between these areas is due to place-specific factors. These effects are particularly pronounced for prior opioid users, who experience an increase in opioid abuse nearly 1.5 times larger than the increase for opioid naives.
- Finkelstein A, Gentzkow M, Williams H. What drives prescription opioid abuse? Evidence from migration. Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Working Paper. 2018 Aug:18-028.