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The effects of the social norm on cigarette consumption: evidence from Japan using panel data

Yamamura, Eiji (2010): The effects of the social norm on cigarette consumption: evidence from Japan using panel data.

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Abstract

Using Japan’s prefecture-level panel data from 1989-2001, this paper examines the influence of the social norm on a person’s smoking behavior when the complementary relationship between smoking and drinking is taken into account. The key findings through a dynamic panel model controlling for unobserved prefecture-specific fixed effects are as follows: (1) Influence from others is stronger when people live more closely and cohesively. A tightly knit society results in a reduction of smoking through smoking-related interaction. (2) Smoking and drinking have a complementary relationship: greater initial consumption of alcohol results in larger consumption of cigarettes. (3) The complementary relationship between smoking and drinking is attenuated if the cost of committing the annoying conduct (i.e., smoking) is high. Overall, this empirical study provides evidence that the psychological effect of the presence of surrounding people has a direct significant effect upon smoking behavior and, furthermore, that it attenuates the complementary relationship between smoking and drinking, thereby reducing cigarette consumption. These results indicate that not only formal rules but also tacitly formed informal norms are effective deterrents to smoking.

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