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Social Networks and the Identification of Peer Effects

Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham and Guido Imbens ()

Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, 2013, vol. 31, issue 3, 253-264

Abstract: There is a large and growing literature on peer effects in economics. In the current article, we focus on a Manski-type linear-in-means model that has proved to be popular in empirical work. We critically examine some aspects of the statistical model that may be restrictive in empirical analyses. Specifically, we focus on three aspects. First, we examine the endogeneity of the network or peer groups. Second, we investigate simultaneously alternative definitions of links and the possibility of peer effects arising through multiple networks. Third, we highlight the representation of the traditional linear-in-means model as an autoregressive model, and contrast it with an alternative moving-average model, where the correlation between unconnected individuals who are indirectly connected is limited. Using data on friendship networks from the Add Health dataset, we illustrate the empirical relevance of these ideas.

Date: 2013
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DOI: 10.1080/07350015.2013.801251

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