CCHE Seminar Series: Peer Effects in Adolescents’ Mental Health: the Role of Peer Support

Peer Effects in Adolescents’ Mental Health: the Role of Peer Support

Josette Rosine Aniwuvi Gbeto

Université Laval

Friday February 3, 2023, 10am-12pm, Zoom

Abstract: This paper investigates the role of peer support in adolescents’ depression, accounting for the endogeneity of peer support. I develop the structural model for the joint probability of the adolescent’s depression score and the emotional support they receive from friends. The model is estimated using a Bayesian approach and data augmentation technique in order to test two different models. The first one hypothesized that peer support acts as a buffer on stress and reduces adolescents’ likelihood of being depressed. The second supposes that adolescents with more depressive tendencies are more likely to seek support. I use the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in Adulthood (Add Health) data on adolescents in grades 7-12 during the 1994-95 school year. Evidence from the first model shows that not accounting for the endogeneity issue leads to an overestimation of the effect of peer support on adolescents’ depression. The results from the second model show that adolescents with higher depression scores seek more peer support and this effect was underestimated if not accounting for the endogeneity issue. An extension of the paper shows that they are endogenous peer effects in adolescents enacted peer support. Adolescents with more friends who are willing to ask for support when depressed have a greater probability to ask for support when there are depressed.

Josette  Rosine Aniwuvi GBETO is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at the Université Laval. She holds a master’s degree in applied economics and Macroeconomics, from the University of Abomey-Calavi. Her primary research interests include health economics and the economics of social networks.