Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10419/210935
Authors: 
Algan, Yann
Dalvit, Nicolò
Do, Quoc-Anh
Le Chapelain, Alexis
Zenou, Yves
Year of Publication: 
2019
Series/Report no.: 
IFN Working Paper 1294
Abstract: 
We study how friendship shapes students' political opinions in a natural experiment. We use the indicator whether two students were exogenously assigned to a short-term "integration group", unrelated to scholar activities and dissolved before the school year, as instrumental variable for their friendship, to estimate the effect of friendship on pairwise political opinion outcomes in dyadic regressions. After six months, friendship causes a reduction of differences in opinions by one quarter of the mean difference. It likely works through a homophily-enforced mechanism, by which friendship causes politically-similar students to join political associations together, which reinforces their political similarity. The effect is strong among initially similar pairs, but absent in dissimilar pairs. Friendship affects opinion gaps by reducing divergence, therefore polarization and extremism, without forcing individuals' views to converge. Network characteristics also matter to the friendship effect.
Subjects: 
Political opinion
Polarization
Friendship effect
Social networks
Homophily
Extremism
Learning
Natural experiment
JEL: 
C93
D72
Z13
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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