This study investigates whether peer influence on smoking among adolescents is asymmetrical. We hypothesize that several features of smoking lead peers to have a stronger effect on smoking initiation than cessation. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health we estimate a dynamic network model that includes separate effects for increases versus decreases in smoking, while also controlling for endogenous network change. We find that the impact of peer influence is stronger for the initiation of smoking than smoking cessation. Adolescents rarely initiate smoking without peer influence but will cease smoking while their friends continue smoking. We discuss the implications of these results for theories of peer influence and health policy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health