Peer Effects and Alcohol Use among College Students, by M. Kremer and D. Levy, Essay

Kremer and Levy (2008) analyze to what degree college students who consume alcohol influence their peers. College students could affect their peers’ alcohol consumption, which in turn may lead to damaging effects. For example, peers could potentially disrupt classrooms, be exposed to disease, and lower their grade point average, start binge drinking, abuse illegal drugs, and even die. These affects may generate multiplier effects in the future. Earlier studies have examined this issue of alcohol consumption and the negative peer effects among college students.

Sacerdote (2001) examines peer effects in universities. He finds evidence that supports this theory that students whose roommates reported high beer consumption were more likely to replicate the same behavior. Kremer and Levy (2003) noted that peers who had a roommate that drank could potentially increase the peer’s preference for alcohol consumption. The Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s (CIRP’s) Entering Student Survey demonstrated GPA’s declining in peers whose roommates drank alcohol frequently, especially those who had in high school.

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The survey classified males as being especially sensitive to peer influences. Empirical data presented by Wechsler, Lee, Kuo & Lee (2000) show that alcohol use and abuse reported by 40% of university students had been binge drinking at least once within the past two weeks and it was concluded that alcohol use, and more specifically binge drinking, is a social influence by peers. There are various economic theories presented in this article. For example, in the context of academic achievement, the assumptions made are that peers could affect others’ preferences, as seeing their friends consume alcohol also stimulates the desire in the other student to consume alcohol. Many theoretical models assume that students’ academic achievements are a linear function of their peer’s ability to influence their behavior as well. The theories presented consist of peers’ effects on the influence of preferences, leading to lower academic achievement because the student’s study is disrupted. The assumption that students who are frequent drinkers being roomed with another frequent drinker would increase their alcohol consumption and possibly lead to binge drinking based on variables, preferences model, and theoretical models which assume the student’s academic outcomes are a linear function of their peer influence, and multiplier effects. Kremer and Levy find from the empirical works that some individuals are more vulnerable than others in the influence to increase alcohol consumption. The increase in alcohol consumption is more commonly linked to the desire for social acceptability.

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