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Forward-thinking teens: The effects of college costs on adolescent risky behavior

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  • Cowan, Benjamin W.

Abstract

This paper analyzes the effect of college costs on teenagers' engagement in risky behaviors before they are old enough to attend college. Individuals with brighter prospects for future schooling attainment may engage in less drug and alcohol use and risky sexual activity because they have more to lose if such behaviors have harmful effects in their lives. If teens correctly predict that higher college costs make future college enrollment less likely, then adolescents facing different expected costs may choose different levels of risky behavior. I find that lower college costs in teenagers' states of residence raise their subjective expectations regarding college attendance and deter teenage substance use and sexual partnership. Specifically, a $1,000 reduction in tuition and fees at 2-year colleges in a youth's state of residence (roughly a 50% difference at the mean) is associated with a decline in the number of sexual partners the youth had in the past year (by 26%), the number of days in the past month the youth smoked (by 14%), and the number of days in the past month the youth used marijuana (by 23%). These findings suggest that the often-studied correlation between schooling and health habits emerges in adolescence because teenagers with brighter college prospects curb their risky behavior in accordance with their expectations. The results also imply that policies that improve teenagers' educational prospects may be effective tools for reducing youthful involvement in such behaviors.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 30 (2011)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 813-825

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:30:y:2011:i:5:p:813-825

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

Related research

Keywords: Health Education Adolescent Teenage Risky behavior Drug Alcohol Sex College Tuition;

References

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Cited by:
  1. Cheatham, Gregory A. & Elliott, William, 2013. "The effects of family college savings on postsecondary school enrollment rates of students with disabilities," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 95-111.
  2. Kim, Youngmi & Sherraden, Michael & Clancy, Margaret, 2013. "Do mothers’ educational expectations differ by race and ethnicity, or socioeconomic status?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 82-94.
  3. Nelson, Jon P., 2014. "Binge Drinking, Alcohol Prices, And Alcohol Taxes," Working Papers 164652, American Association of Wine Economists.
  4. Sherraden, Margaret & Peters, Clark & Wagner, Kristen & Guo, Baorong & Clancy, Margaret, 2013. "Contributions of qualitative research to understanding savings for children and youth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 66-77.

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