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Drinking and Academic Performance in High School

  • Jeff DeSimone
  • Amy M. Wolaver

We investigate the extent to which negative alcohol use coefficients in GPA regressions reflect unobserved heterogeneity rather than direct effects of drinking, using 2001 and 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data on high school students. Results illustrate that omitted factors are quite important. Drinking coefficient magnitudes fall substantially in regressions that control for risk and time preference, mental health, self-esteem, and consumption of other substances. Moreover, the impact of binge drinking is negligible for students who are less risk averse, heavily discount the future, or use other drugs. However, effects that remain significant after accounting for unobserved heterogeneity and are relatively large for risk averse, future oriented and drug free students suggest that binge drinking might slightly worsen academic performance. Consistent with this, the relationship between grades and drinking without binging is small and insignificant on the extensive margin and positive on the intensive margin.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11035.

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Date of creation: Jan 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11035
Note: HE CH
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  1. Tetsuji Yamada & Michael Kendix & Tadashi Yamada, 1993. "The Impact of Alcohol Consumption and Marijuana Use on High School Graduation," NBER Working Papers 4497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Victor R. Fuchs, 1980. "Time Preference and Health: An Exploratory Study," NBER Working Papers 0539, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. William N. Evans & Edward Montgomery, 1994. "Education and Health: Where There's Smoke There's an Instrument," NBER Working Papers 4949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Dickie, M. & Gerking, S., 1993. "Formation of Risk Beleifs, Joint Production and Willingness to Pay to Avoid Skin Cancer," Papers 398e, Georgia - College of Business Administration, Department of Economics.
  5. Jenny Williams & Lisa Powell & Henry Wechsler, 2003. "Does alcohol consumption reduce human capital accumulation? Evidence from the College Alcohol Study," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(10), pages 1227-1239.
  6. Cook, Philip J. & Moore, Michael J., 1993. "Drinking and schooling," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 411-429, December.
  7. Pinka Chatterji, 2003. "Illicit Drug Use and Educational Attainment," NBER Working Papers 10045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Amy M. Wolaver, 2002. "Effects Of Heavy Drinking In College On Study Effort, Grade Point Average, And Major Choice," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 20(4), pages 415-428, October.
  9. SF Koch & DC Ribar, 2001. "A Siblings Analysis Of The Effects Of Alcohol Consumption Onset On Educational Attainment," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 19(2), pages 162-174, 04.
  10. Thomas S. Dee & William N. Evans, 2003. "Teen Drinking and Educational Attainment: Evidence from Two-Sample Instrumental Variables Estimates," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 178-209, January.
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