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Peer Effects and Alcohol Use among College Students

August 2008

Michael Kremer, Dan Levy


By using data from a large state university that randomly assigns roommates, the authors were able to reach conclusions regarding the effect a roommate has on academic performance. They found that male students assigned a roommate who drank prior to college had lower grade point averages than those assigned roommates who didn’t drink. This was in contrast to the data on roommate academic performance and socioeconomic status, which they found to have no effect.

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Policy Implications

Binge drinking is a problem on college campuses. This study shows that policies seeking to mitigate peer effects on drinking are headed in the right direction. The authors point to examples such as “substance free housing” and PR campaigns to show students that their peers drink less than they think as potentially effective in not only curbing the public health crisis of binge drinking, but also improving educational performance.

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