“Surviving Childhood: Health and Crime Effects of Removing a Child From Home” [Job Market Paper] (November 2023)
“Treated Together: Spillovers Among Youths Admitted to Residential Treatment” (October 2023)
Individuals struggling with substance abuse and self-harm are often treated in group-based programs. However, concerns have been raised about the risk of adverse outcomes through peer-to-peer spillovers. This paper analyses the effects of peers placed in residential treatment facilities on each other’s outcomes using novel data on the universe of youths (over 16,000) admitted to state-owned treatment facilities in Sweden between 2000 and 2020. To overcome the issue of nonrandom assignment of youths to facilities, I use the natural flow of youths to and from facilities within a given year by including facility-by-year fixed effects. I find strong evidence of reinforcing peer effects in substance abuse and self-harm. Exposing youths with a history of substance abuse (self-harm) to peers with a similar background increases the risk of experiencing adverse events related to substance abuse (self-harm) post-discharge. These effects are robust to the inclusion of controls for other peer characteristics (crime, mental disorders, gender, nationality, and age).