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Smoking within the Household: Spousal Peer Effects and Children's Health Implications

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Smoking within the Household: Spousal Peer Effects and Children’s Health Implications∗ Chiara Canta†and Pierre Dubois‡ This version: October 2011 Abstract This paper studies spousal peer effects on the smoking behaviour and their implication for the health of children through passive smoking. Smoking decisions are modeled as equilibrium strategies of an incomplete information game within the couple. Using data from the French Health Survey 2002-2003, we identify two distinct effects linked to spousal behaviour: a smoking enhancing effect of smoking partners and a smoking deterring effect of non smoking partners. On the one hand, having a smoking partner might make smoking more valuable because of the possibility of smoking together. On the other hand, having a non smoking partner might reduce the utility of smoking because the smoker partially internalises the nuisance imposed on the partner. An implication of these findings is that the smoking behaviour could differ qualitatively in couples in which both partners smoke and in which just one partner smokes. This interpretation is supported by our finding that the respiratory health of children is negatively affected only if both parents smoke. JEL Code: C31, D10, I12. Keywords: Smoking, Social Interaction, Simultaneous Game Model, Health. ∗We thank Jerome Adda, Magnus Johannesson, and workshop and conference participants at Toulouse School of Economics, Stockholm School of Economics, the ASHE Conference 2010, the European Economic Association Congress 2010 for useful comments. †Université Catholique de Louvain, CORE. ‡Toulouse School of Economics. 1 1 Introduction The determinants of smoking behaviour are the object of many studies aimed at improving the understanding of a phenomenon that imposes high costs on societies. An important question in this context is how social interactions affect smoking decisions. Peer effects have been shown to play an important role in individual smoking decisions. The behaviour of pee

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