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The effect of childhood conduct disorder on human capital

  • Suncica Vujic
  • Pierre Koning

    ()

  • Dinand Webbink

    ()

  • N. Martin

This paper estimates the longer-term effects of childhood conduct disorder on human capital accumulation and violent and criminal behaviour later in life using data of Australian twins. We measure conduct disorder with a rich set of indicators based on diagnostic criteria from psychiatry (e.g., aggression to people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness or theft, and/or serious violations of rules). Using ordinary least squares (OLS) and twin fixed effects (FE) estimation approaches, we find that early (pre-18) conduct disorder problems significantly affect both human capital accumulation and violent and criminal behaviour over the life course. For instance, within pairs of identical twins we find that conduct disorder reduces the probability of high school graduation with 4 to 13 percent points and increases the probability of being arrested with 7 to 16 percent points. Robustness checks suggest that these estimates may be lower bounds of the true effects of conduct disorder. In addition, we find that conduct disorder is more deleterious if these behaviours occur earlier in life. We conclude that childhood mental health problems have high human and financial costs for families and society at large. Effective treatments early in life might yield high returns.

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Paper provided by CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis in its series CPB Discussion Paper with number 113.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:113
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  1. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," NBER Working Papers 13016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Paul Gregg & Stephen Machin, 1998. "Child Development and Success or Failure in the Youth Labour Market," CEP Discussion Papers dp0397, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Anh T. Le & Paul W. Miller & Andrew C. Heath & Nick Martin, 2004. "Early Childhood Behaviours, Schooling and Labour Market Outcomes: Estimates from a Sample of Twins," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 04-02, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  4. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  6. Alan Krueger & Orley Ashenfelter, 1992. "Estimates of the Economic Return to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," NBER Working Papers 4143, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Blanden, Jo & Gregg, Paul & Macmillan, Lindsey, 2007. "Accounting for Intergenerational Income Persistence: Noncognitive Skills, Ability and Education," IZA Discussion Papers 2554, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Miller, Paul & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 2006. "The return to schooling: Estimates from a sample of young Australian twins," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(5), pages 571-587, October.
  9. Fletcher, Jason & Wolfe, Barbara, 2008. "Child mental health and human capital accumulation: The case of ADHD revisited," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 794-800, May.
  10. Garces, E. & Thomas, D. & Currie, J., 2000. "Longer Term Effects of Head Start," Papers 00-20, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
  11. Griliches, Zvi, 1979. "Sibling Models and Data in Economics: Beginnings of a Survey," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages S37-64, October.
  12. Currie, Janet & Tekin, Erdal, 2006. "Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?," IZA Discussion Papers 2063, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Jason M. Fletcher, 2008. "Adolescent depression: diagnosis, treatment, and educational attainment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(11), pages 1215-1235.
  14. Janet Currie & Mark Stabile, 2004. "Child Mental Health and Human Capital Accumulation: The Case of ADHD," NBER Working Papers 10435, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Miller, Paul W & Mulvey, Charles & Martin, Nick, 1995. "What Do Twins Studies Reveal about the Economic Returns to Education? A Comparison of Australian and U.S. Findings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 586-99, June.
  16. Slade, Eric P. & Wissow, Lawrence S., 2007. "The influence of childhood maltreatment on adolescents' academic performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 604-614, October.
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