Three Essays on Peer Effects and Juvenile Delinquency

Date of Award

December 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Eleonora Patacchini

Second Advisor

John M. Yinger

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This dissertation comprises three essays on peer effects and juvenile delinquency. The first paper explores the existence of differential peer effects on youth crime for adolescents with different parental engagement. A cultural transmission model is developed and taken to the data, showing that peer effects on juvenile crime are significantly lower for teenagers with engaged mothers. The second paper presents a new theory of crime where leaders transmit crime technology and act as a role model for other criminals. Using a definition of the leader which is exogenous to the network formation, we find that the longer is the distance to the leader, the lower is the criminal activity of the students and the less likely they become criminals. The last paper exploits the exogenous variation in peer groups generated by high school to college transitions to study the predictions of a theoretical model of self-control in peer groups. We find that students embedded in social circles have more self-control, whereas students’ self-control is a non-monotonic hump-shaped function of the average self-control of their friends. A representative sample of high-school students in the United States is used in all papers.


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