Chapter

Social Interactions and Smoking

David M. Cutler and Edward L. Glaeser

in Research Findings in the Economics of Aging

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780226903064
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226903088 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226903088.003.0006
Social Interactions and Smoking

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This chapter discusses whether people are more likely to smoke when smokers surround them. Several reasons are suggested that peers might matter for health-related behaviors. In many cases, health-related behaviors are more fun to do when others are doing them too (e.g., drinking). Peers are a source of information about health (the benefits of a mammogram) or what is acceptable in society (the approbation accorded smokers). These interpersonal complementarities can have enormous social impact. Peer effects magnify the impact of policy interventions. The existence of social interactions implies that a policy intervention has both a direct effect on the impacted individual and an indirect effect, as that person's behavior affects those around them. These indirect effects create a social multiplier where the predicted impact of interventions will be greater when the interventions are imposed in larger geographic areas.

Keywords: smoking; health; policy; interpersonal

Chapter.  9175 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economics

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