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The deadly effect of high-stakes testing on teenagers with reference-dependent preferences


  • Liang Choon Wang


This paper explains why suicidal tendency and test performance of teenagers may not be inversely related when individuals have reference-dependent preferences. Using panel survey data of South Korean secondary school students, I show that the relationship between suicidal ideation and test performance is consistent with reference-dependent preferences. When a student’s rank in the high-stakes College Scholastic Ability Test falls below her average ranks in prior national examinations, she exhibits greater suicidal tendency. The reference dependent effects, however, are absent for low-stakes in-school academic performance. The findings highlight the potential adverse consequences of disappointment in high-stakes testing.

Suggested Citation

  • Liang Choon Wang, 2013. "The deadly effect of high-stakes testing on teenagers with reference-dependent preferences," Monash Economics Working Papers 40-13, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2013-40

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    Cited by:

    1. Wang, Liang Choon, 2015. "All work and no play? The effects of ability sorting on students’ non-school inputs, time use, and grade anxiety," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 29-41.

    More about this item


    High-Stakes Testing; Reference-Dependent Preference; Suicide; Suicidal Ideation; Korea.;

    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I31 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - General Welfare, Well-Being

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