Peer Characteristic Moderation of Peer Influence in the Adolescent Initiation of Drinking

Brandon Wagner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

While it is understood that peers influence the behaviors of individuals, very little work has examined how the characteristics of peers factor into the influence process. Examining the adolescent transition to alcohol usage, this paper focuses on how peer characteristics, in particular age, change the influence a peer exerts. With data from the in-school and Wave 1 collection of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, I use two different approaches in order to minimize the issue of endogeneity that plagues peer research: an instrumental variable approach that uses school grade configuration to instrument having older friends and a dyad approach that measures changing similarity between friends as a function of individual and peer characteristics. While there are no significant findings from the instrumental variable approach, the results from the dyad analysis reveal evidence that adolescent are more likely to change their drinking behavior to match that of older friends.

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Presented in Poster Session 7