Adolescent Risk Perception, Substance Use, and Educational Attainment
This paper studies whether adolescents who are more aware of the risks on substance use in the early teenage years are later less likely to turn into binge drinkers or smokers. It also examines if reduction in substance use, due to high risk perception among adolescents, consequently improves their educational achievement. This research is important for two reasons. First, enhancing risk perception of substance use is an important strategy to prevent the youth from binge drinking and smoking. Second, adolescent substance use and educational achievement are key predictors of adulthood outcomes. We apply a bivariate probit model to a large representative dataset which codes youth risk perception, substance use, and educational attainment. The analysis shows high risk perception lowers the likelihood of substance use among the high school seniors. The resulting low alcohol use increases the chance of attending college and decreases the probability of dropping out of high school. The reduction in cigarette use caused by high risk perception has a similar effect on such two educational outcomes. It also increases high school graduation by 22 percent. Overall, this study suggests that enhancing recognition on the hazards of substance use is an effective policy intervention to reduce adolescent binge drinking and smoking, as well as improve educational attainment. Key Words: adolescent risk perception; binge drinking; cigarette smoking; educational attainment
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