Social Network Effects in Contraceptive Behavior among Adolescents
Mir Ali, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Aliaksandr Amialchuk, University of Toledo
Debra Dwyer, Stony Brook University, State University of New York (SUNY)
In this paper we seek to empirically quantify the role of peer social networks in explaining contraceptive behavior among adolescents. Using data from a nationally representative sample of adolescents we utilize a multivariate structural model with school-level fixed effects to account for the problems of contextual effects, correlated effects and peer selection to purge the potential biases from the estimates of peer influence. Our peer group measures are drawn not only from the nomination of close friends, but also from classmates. Controlling for parental characteristics, and other demographic parameters, we find that a 10 % increase in the proportion of classmates who used contraception will increase the likelihood of individual contraception use by approximately 5 %. We also find evidence to show that the influence of close friends diminishes in magnitude after accounting for unobserved environmental confounders.