Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Influence of Misperceptions about Social Norms on Substance Use among School-age Adolescents

Amialchuk, Aliaksandr and Ajilore, Gbenga and Egan, Kevin (2019): The Influence of Misperceptions about Social Norms on Substance Use among School-age Adolescents. Published in: Health Economics , Vol. 28, (24 April 2019): pp. 736-747.

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Abstract

Individuals often have biased perceptions about their peers' behavior. We use an economic equilibrium analysis to study the role social norms play in substance use decisions. Using a nationally representative dataset, we estimate the effect of misperception about friends' alcohol, smoking, and marijuana use on consumption of these substances by youths in grades 7–12. Overestimation of friend's substance use significantly increases adolescent's own use approximately 1 year later, and the estimated effect is robust across specifications including individual‐level fixed effects regression. The effect size is bigger for boys than for girls. The estimates for those who initially underestimated the norm suggest the possibility of a rebound/boomerang effect.

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