Review of Peer Effects and Multiple Equilibria in the Risky Behavior of Friends

4 pages
973 words
Sewanee University of the South
Type of paper: 
Article review
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The article seeks out to demystify the core reason as to why individuals make the choice they do and how are those choices affected by the kind of friends they keep. Tendencies towards behaviors such as sex, smoking, marijuana use and truancy are the key issues observed in these texts. The leniency towards different forms of social behavior is highly affected by social interactions, friends choices determine a big part of the activities individuals engage themselves in. As clearly stated in the paper, Social interactions can lead to multiple equilibria in friends choices: we consider simple equilibrium selection models as well as partial likelihood models that remain agnostic about the choice of equilibrium. Our identification strategy assumes that there is at least one individual characteristic (for instance, physical development) that does not directly affect a friends propensity to engage in a risky activity. Our estimates suggest that patterns of initiation of risky behavior by adolescent friends exhibit significant interaction effects. The likelihood that one friend initiates intercourse within a year of the baseline interview increases by four percentage points (on a base of 14%) if the other also initiates intercourse, holding constant family and individual factors (Card and Giuliano, 2013, 2).

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This paper seeks out to establish that peer or social pressure contribute highly to behaviors that individuals engage in, that they would not choose in the absence of social pressure. The objective of the authors is to distinctly prove that social interactions and choice of friends is a likelihood for certain unexpected behavior in certain adolescents (Card and Giuliano, 2013). The paper tries to measure the peer effects between best friend pairs in a study conducted by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. The focus is on the interactions that lead to decisions that initiate participation in risky behavior such as drug use, sexual intercourse, marijuana use and truancy in school. The author clearly states that the social relationships kept by adolescents inherently determine the pathways and behaviors that they adopt (Card and Giuliano, 2013). The authors also state that on only in the bivariate situation that the equilibria are tipped, for instance when external factors such as personal beliefs, principles and also family influence can help an individual to avoid engaging in certain activities.

The authors of the article went out to seek data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescents Health. The information they received were from research studies conducted from 1994 to 1995 from over among 7th to 12th-grade students. The first wave of the research was conducted in over 80 high schools. The first wave saw to the interviewing of over 20, 745 students at home. The second wave of the survey was conducted one year later, this time the students interviewed were 14,736, and this was a follow up an interview with the first wave survey. The survey targeted out to get interviews of friendships that occur in high school. The data collected was from students that maintain close friendships in both the first and second wave surveys. The data collected was on a best friend at home and best friend in school, the students were allowed to list five other friends to help the survey be more comprehensive. The analysis of the data collected was analyzed using Monte Carlo simulations. The data was analyzed in four subsets of risky behavior namely; sexual activity, cigarette smoking, marijuana use and truancy (Menkhoff & Sakha, 2017).

The results and conclusions of this article are based on the propensity of risk behaviors among best friend pairs based on econometric models of students joint outcomes on correlated unobserved heterogeneity. Taking, for instance, sexual intercourse, the possibility of an adolescent engaging in sex because a close friend is having sex is mid-sized, estimated at 4 to 5% (Card and Giuliano, 2013). Similar results are evident in other behaviors such as marijuana and tobacco use. These factors are big enough to call for parental concern but not big enough to overwhelm the influence of individual and family characteristics (Menkhoff & Sakha, n.d.). The above results pass a different message altogether, the influence of best friends is not as high as initially projected.

The above article does not look into the factors that are external and also internal to individuals that may predispose one to engage in risky behaviors. Factors like aggression at home, the need to try new experiences and bullying influence individual towards risky behaviors in favor of social conformity. The paper pretty much contradicts my personal beliefs; I believe that individuals get into risky behaviors knowingly, decisions are usually not influenced by friends as awareness of social pressure is common knowledge. The article should have looked into factors that predispose individuals to decide to engage in risky behaviors. Friendship in essence among adolescents may affect students engagement in risky behaviors, on the contrary students can also help out their friends disengage from ill behaviors. Family background, religion, and personality have a great influence on the kind of engagement that individuals get themselves.


Card, D. and Giuliano, L. (2013). Peer Effects and Multiple Equilibria in the Risky Behavior of Friends. Review of Economics and Statistics, [online] 95(4), pp.4-58. Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

I accessed the above material by searching it online; the resource was available in Berkeley Educations Website. I used the above material to conduct my article review, and I used the above-listed pages for my research


Card, D. and Giuliano, L. (2013). Peer Effects and Multiple Equilibria in the Risky Behavior of Friends. Review of Economics and Statistics, [online] 95(4), pp 4-58. Available at: [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Menkhoff, L. & Sakha, S. (2017). Estimating risky behavior with multiple-item risk measures. Journal Of Economic Psychology, 59, 59-86., L. & Sakha, S. Estimating Risky Behavior with Multiple-Item Risk Measures: An Empirical Examination. SSRN Electronic Journal.

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