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Marijuana Use and High School Dropout: The Influence of Unobservables

  • Daniel F. McCaffrey
  • Rosalie Liccardo Pacula
  • Bing Han
  • Phyllis Ellickson
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    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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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14102.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14102.

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    Date of creation: Jun 2008
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    Publication status: published as Marijuana Use and High School Dropout The Influence of Unobservables by Daniel F. McCaffrey, Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Bing Han, Phyllis L. Ellickson Save to My RAND Print Share Cover: Marijuana Use and High School Dropout Published In: Health Economics, v. 19, no. 11, Nov. 2010, p. 1281-1299
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14102
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    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Jeremy W. Bray & Gary A. Zarkin & Chris Ringwalt & Junfeng Qi, 2000. "The relationship between marijuana initiation and dropping out of high school," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(1), pages 9-18.
    2. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-55, March-Apr.
    3. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Time Preference and Health: An Exploratory Study," NBER Chapters, in: Economic Aspects of Health, pages 93-120 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Pinka Chatterji, 2006. "Illicit drug use and educational attainment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(5), pages 489-511.
    5. Sander, William, 1998. "The effects of schooling and cognitive ability on smoking and marijuana use by young adults," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 317-324, June.
    6. Farrell, Phillip & Fuchs, Victor R. & Fuchs, Victor R., 1982. "Schooling and health : The cigarette connection," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3), pages 217-230, December.
    7. Cook, Philip J. & Moore, Michael J., 1993. "Drinking and schooling," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 411-429, December.
    8. Roebuck, M. Christopher & French, Michael T. & Dennis, Michael L., 2004. "Adolescent marijuana use and school attendance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 133-141, April.
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