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Marijuana Use and High School Dropout: The Influence of Unobservables

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  • Daniel F. McCaffrey
  • Rosalie Liccardo Pacula
  • Bing Han
  • Phyllis Ellickson

Abstract

In this study we reconsider the relationship between heavy and persistent marijuana use and high school dropout status using a unique prospective panel study of over 4500 7th grade students from South Dakota who are followed up through high school. Propensity score weighting is used to adjust for baseline differences that are found to exist before marijuana initiation occurs (7th grade). Weighted logistic regression incorporating these propensity score weights is then used to examine the extent to which time-varying factors, including substance use, also influence the likelihood of dropping out of school. We find a positive association between marijuana use and dropping out (OR=5.68), over half of which can be explained by prior differences in observational characteristics and behaviors. The remaining association (OR=2.31) is made statistically insignificant when measures of cigarette smoking are included in the analysis. Because no physiological justification can be provided for why cigarette smoking would reduce the cognitive effects of marijuana on schooling, we interpret this as evidence that the association is due to other factors. We then use the rich data to explore which constructs are driving this result, determining that it is time-varying parental and peer influences.

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  • Daniel F. McCaffrey & Rosalie Liccardo Pacula & Bing Han & Phyllis Ellickson, 2008. "Marijuana Use and High School Dropout: The Influence of Unobservables," NBER Working Papers 14102, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14102
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    Cited by:

    1. Marian Shanahan & Alison Ritter, 2014. "Cost Benefit Analysis of Two Policy Options for Cannabis: Status Quo and Legalisation," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 9(4), pages 1-12, April.
    2. Deborah A. Cobb-Clark & Sonja C. Kassenboehmer & Trinh Le & Duncan McVicar & Rong Zhang, 2015. "‘High’-School: The Relationship between Early Marijuana Use and Educational Outcomes," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 91(293), pages 247-266, June.
    3. Carlos Casacuberta & Mariana Gerstenblüth & Patricia Triunfo, 2012. "Aportes del análisis económico al estudio de las drogas," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0112, Department of Economics - dECON.
    4. Zhao, Meng & Konishi, Yoshifumi & Glewwe, Paul, 2012. "Does smoking affect schooling? Evidence from teenagers in rural China," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 584-598.
    5. Jan C. Ours & Jenny Williams, 2015. "Cannabis Use And Its Effects On Health, Education And Labor Market Success," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(5), pages 993-1010, December.
    6. Ladislav Kážmér & Pavla Chomynová & Ladislav Csémy, 2019. "What Affects What? Perceived Cannabis Availability and Its Use Among Czech Urban Youth—A Multilevel Sociogeographic Analysis," SAGE Open, , vol. 9(2), pages 21582440198, May.
    7. Williams, Jenny & Pacula, Rosalie Liccardo & Smart, Rosanna, 2019. "De Facto or De Jure? Ethnic Differences in Quit Responses to Legal Protections of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries," IZA Discussion Papers 12114, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. Pudney, Stephen & Bryan, Mark & DelBono, Emilia, 2013. "Licensing and regulation of the cannabis market in England and Wales: Towards a cost-benefit analysis," MPRA Paper 50365, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Daniel I. Rees, 2014. "Does substance use affect educational outcomes?," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 1-66, May.
    10. Mo, Phoenix Kit-han & Lau, Joseph Tak Fai, 2020. "Psychoactive substance use among Chinese non-engaged youth: The application of the Health Belief Model," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 113(C).
    11. Pei, Fei & Wang, Yixuan & Wu, Qi & Shockley McCarthy, Karla & Wu, Shiyou, 2020. "The roles of neighborhood social cohesion, peer substance use, and adolescent depression in adolescent substance use," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 112(C).
    12. Mezza, Alvaro & Buchinsky, Moshe, 2021. "Illegal drugs, education, and labor market outcomes," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 223(2), pages 454-484.
    13. Daniel I. Rees, 2019. "Does substance use affect academic performance?," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 1-66, April.
    14. Hansen, Jörgen & Davalloo, Golnaz, 2023. "Persistent Marijuana Use: Evidence from the NLSY," IZA Discussion Papers 16446, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Chu, Yu-Wei Luke & Gershenson, Seth, 2018. "High times: The effect of medical marijuana laws on student time use," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 142-153.

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    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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