Johannes Buggle, Thierry Mayer, Seyhun Orcan Sakalli, Mathias Thoenig, 25 January 2021

The recent refugee crisis has fuelled discussions about policies restricting immigration. This column quantifies the extent to which asylum policies affect emigration by analysing the migration decisions of German Jewish refugees in the 1930s. Policies have large effects on migration as the effects are multiplied through peers who influence each other in the decision to emigrate. Removing work restrictions for refugees in the recipient countries after the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 would have led to a 28% increase in Jewish emigration out of Germany.

Marit Hinnosaar, Elaine Liu, 18 October 2020

Alcohol is one of the leading killers among substances, but little is known how various factors interact to affect individual alcohol consumption. This column explores how much the environment –, including supply conditions, alcohol regulation, taxes, and peers – drives alcohol consumption, by analysing changes in alcohol purchases when US consumers move from one state to another. The current environment explains about two-thirds of the differences in alcohol purchases, with consumers’ alcohol purchases converging sharply toward the average purchase level in their destination state right after moving.

Tiziano Arduini, Alberto Bisin, Onur Ozgur, Eleonora Patacchini, 27 November 2019

Smoking and alcohol use are widespread among adolescents in the US and are linked to negative socioeconomic effects.While existing research has separately looked at the dynamic choice and the social interactions that shape adolescent risky behaviours, this column considers both components in a dynamic social interactions model. Looking at alcohol and smoking use in a school environment, it finds that addiction and peer effects are more than twice as important as the effect of individual preferences in shaping risky behaviour and that students take into account the amount of time they have left in the school system.

Drew Johnston, Theresa Kuchler, Johannes Stroebel, Arlene Wong, 18 September 2019

Our consumption decisions are affected by our friends, but how large is the effect? The column uses Facebook data to show that when a person buys a new phone, the peer effects that tempt friends to purchase too are large and long-lasting. The effects are strongest for the young and less educated. Peer effects may also cause friends to switch operating systems when they buy new phones.

Angela Cools, Raquel Fernández, Eleonora Patacchini, 30 August 2019

The effect of class gender composition and the effect of peer ability on outcomes are usually examined separately. This column asks whether there are long-term consequences to attending a high school with a larger or smaller number of female or male high achievers. Using data on students in grades 7-12 from a nationally representative sample of roughly 130 private and public schools, it shows that high-achieving boys have a negative and persistent effect on girls’ longer-run education outcomes, but no significant effect on boys’ outcomes. 

Márta Bisztray, Miklós Koren, Adam Szeidl, 18 November 2018

Several recent studies have used network methods to explore the spatial spillovers within cities. This column adds to this literature by exploring how the spatial and managerial networks in Budapest influence firms’ import decisions. A peer in the same building with import experience from a specific country has a strong positive effect on the probability that a firm will start importing from that country. These findings point to the importance of social multipliers in facilitating the diffusion of good business practices. 

Michalis Haliassos, Vimal Balasubramaniam, 01 June 2018

The Third CEPR European Workshop on Household Finance took place on 11 and 12 May in London. This column describes the papers that were presented at the workshop.

Marcel Fafchamps, Ana Vaz, Pedro Vicente, 03 March 2018

Voter turnout is crucial in electing a politically representative government, but turnout depends on many social norms as well as the likelihood of casting a pivotal vote. This column uses evidence from a campaign to increase turnout in the 2009 elections in Mozambique to examine how peer effects impact both these channels. The results reveal positive peer effects on information and interest in politics, but negative effects on voter participation, perhaps due to voters becoming aware that their vote is less likely to matter as overall turnout increases.

Cheti Nicoletti, Kjell G. Salvanes, Emma Tominey, 10 December 2017

Developed countries have seen substantial increases in the number of women who return to work after having a child. This is due to a host of well-researched factors, including tax credit incentives and increased availability of child care. This column analyses another factor determining mothers’ labour supply – the peer effects of women in their family. It finds that for each hour worked by a family member, women work up 30 minutes a week purely due to the peer effect. This finding is important for determining the direct and indirect effectiveness of policies encouraging women to work after having children.

Marco Battaglini, Carlos Díaz, Eleonora Patacchini, 29 January 2017

Peers and role models play a key role in the choices young people make. This column discusses research suggesting that students who are part of a social circle have more self-control than those who are alone, and the larger this social circle, the greater the self-control. However, having peers who are too similar can be detrimental to self-control.

Giacomo De Giorgi, Anders Frederiksen, Luigi Pistaferri, 17 September 2016

Household consumption can be influenced by the consumption behaviour of peers. This column examines why this is the case, and considers some policy implications. The tendency for individuals to under-save (or over-borrow) in an attempt to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ appears to be driven by the average consumption of their peers, rather than by the consumption of conspicuous items. If tax policy fails to consider these peer effects, it risks wrongly estimating the effects of tax reforms that target certain groups.

Stephen Billings , David Deming, Stephen Ross, 11 July 2016

The propensity for youths to commit crime has long been associated with where they live. This column looks at how the school they attend can shape this relationship. Exploiting changes to school catchment areas in a US school district, it shows that concentrations of students with similar characteristics and from similar neighbourhoods at the same school increase arrest rates, if these potential peers live close to each other. Moreover, youths who live near each other and are in the same school and grade are more likely to commit crimes together. Policies to decrease segregation in schools could thus be effective in reducing crime.

Scott Carrell, Mark Hoekstra, Elira Kuka, 25 April 2016

Bad behaviour by peers is well-known to worsen educational outcomes in the short run. This column investigates the long-run effects of peers from families marked by domestic violence. Individual-level US data linking middle and high school test scores, college enrolment, and earnings at ages 24–28 show that students exposed to more disruptive peers experience worse adult outcomes. Policies that mitigate exposure to disruptive peers could pay high dividends.

Matthew Lindquist, Jan Sauermann, Yves Zenou, 10 December 2015

There is growing evidence that worker productivity is contagious. This column examines the impact of co-worker networks on productivity using tools from network economics. There are indeed strong network effects in worker productivity, with increases in the productivity of an individual’s co-worker network leading to an increase in the individual’s productivity. Also, exposure to trained workers increases the productivity of non-trained workers. The findings have implications for the optimal structure of co-worker networks within firms.

Jan van Ours, Ali Palali, 16 October 2015

A major aim of cigarette taxes and tobacco control policies is to encourage smokers to quit. It is therefore important to understand the dynamics of quitting decisions in two-smoker couples. This column uses Dutch data to examine whether spousal peer effects exist for smoking cessation decisions. After controlling for the fact that couples are more likely to be similar to begin with, no evidence is found of one partner’s decision to quit affecting their spouse’s decision.

Trevon Logan, John Parman, 09 March 2015

Racial disparities in socioeconomic conditions remain a major policy issue throughout the world. This column applies a new neighbour-based measure of residential segregation to US census data from 1880 and 1940. The authors find that existing measures understate the extent of segregation, and that segregation increased in rural as well as urban areas. The dramatic decline in opposite-race neighbours during the 20th century may help to explain the persistence of racial inequality in the US.

Yves Zenou, 08 January 2015

Targeting key players in a network can have important effects due to multipliers arising from peer effects. This column argues that this is particularly true for crime –the success in reducing crime in Chicago was due to the targeting of 400 key players rather than spending resources on more general targets. Key-player policies in crime, education, R&D networks, financial networks, and diffusion of microfinance outperform other policies such as targeting the most active agents in a network.

Nicola Bianchi, 29 December 2014

Governments sometimes promote reforms that increase access to education for a large share of the population. These reforms may lower the returns to education by altering returns to skills, education quality, and peer effects. This column examines a 1961 Italian reform that increased enrolment in university STEM majors among students who had previously been denied access. The reform ultimately failed to raise their incomes.

Jason Fletcher, Stephen Ross, 03 November 2013

There is a large and growing literature on peer effects, but much less is known about the role of friendships and social relationships in student outcomes. The best evidence on the mechanisms behind aggregate peer effects suggests an important role for discipline and disruption. Very recent research suggests that friends can also have a substantial effect on student outcomes, and in many cases the effect of friends appears to be independent of aggregate peer effects.

Clément Bosquet, Pierre-Philippe Combes, 21 June 2013

Every academic has an opinion about what makes a good department. This column brings evidence from French economics departments. It suggests that larger departments are associated with slightly more but no better publications per academic. And while diversity in terms of researcher quality lowers average publication quality, diversity in research topics increases it.


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