Social Networks and Vaccination Decisions. FRB of Boston Working Paper No. 07-12 [Internet]. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract.
We combine survey responses, network data, and medical records in order to examine how friends affect the decision to get vaccinated against influenza. The random assignment of undergraduates to residential halls at a large private university generates exogenous variation in exposure to the vaccine, enabling us to credibly identify social effects. We find evidence of positive peer influences on health beliefs and vaccination choices. In addition, we develop a novel procedure to distinguish between different forms of social effects. Most of the impact of friends on immunization behavior is attributable to social learning about the medical benefits of the vaccine.