Estimating heterogeneous and hierarchical peer effects on body weight using roommate assignments as a natural experiment

Olga Yakusheva, Kandice A. Kapinos, Daniel Eisenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations


We investigate peer effects in weight gain by exploiting a naturalexperiment, roommate assignments of 751 male and 845 female first-year college students. Results indicate that females are subject to peer influence in weight gain, with little evidence of peer effects for males. Peer influences appear to be heterogeneous as heavier and thinner females are affected by roommates more than average-weight females, and hierarchical with females influenced only by roommates who are thinner, of a higher socioeconomic status, and more sexually experienced relative to themselves. Similarity of academic performance, religiosity, and political views appears to facilitate transmission of peer influences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-261
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Human Resources
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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