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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Suncica Vujic & Pierre Koning & Dinand Webbink & N. Martin, 2008. "The effect of childhood conduct disorder on human capital," CPB Discussion Paper 113, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpb:discus:113

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jo Blanden & Paul Gregg & Lindsey Macmillan, 2007. "Accounting for Intergenerational Income Persistence: Noncognitive Skills, Ability and Education," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(519), pages 43-60, March.
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    5. Le, Anh T. & Miller, Paul W. & Heath, Andrew C. & Martin, Nick, 2005. "Early childhood behaviours, schooling and labour market outcomes: estimates from a sample of twins," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 1-17, February.
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    13. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pierre Koning & Dinand Webbink & Nicholas Martin, 2015. "The effect of education on smoking behavior: new evidence from smoking durations of a sample of twins," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 1479-1497, June.
    2. Emanuele Millemaci & Dario Sciulli, 2011. "The causal effect of family difficulties during childhood on adult labour market outcomes," CEIS Research Paper 203, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 30 Jun 2011.
    3. Dinand Webbink & Nicholas Martin & Peter Visscher, 2011. "Does teenage childbearing reduce investment in human capital?," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(2), pages 701-730, April.
    4. repec:spr:jopoec:v:30:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00148-017-0642-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Dinand Webbink & Pierre Koning & Sunčica Vujić & Nicholas G. Martin, 2013. "Why Are Criminals Less Educated than Non-Criminals? Evidence from a Cohort of Young Australian Twins," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(1), pages 115-144, February.
    6. Sciulli, Dario, 2016. "Adult employment probabilities of socially maladjusted children," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 9-22.
    7. Donal O’Neill & Sinéad McGilloway & Michael Donnelly & Tracey Bywater & Paul Kelly, 2013. "A cost-effectiveness analysis of the Incredible Years parenting programme in reducing childhood health inequalities," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 14(1), pages 85-94, February.
    8. Lundborg, Petter & Nilsson, Anton & Rooth, Dan-Olof, 2011. "Does Early Life Health Predict Schooling Within Twin Pairs?," IZA Discussion Papers 5803, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Eide, Eric R. & Showalter, Mark H., 2011. "Estimating the relation between health and education: What do we know and what do we need to know?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 778-791, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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