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Marijuana Use and High School Dropout: The Influence of Unobservables

Author

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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 Note: HE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Pinka Chatterji, 2006. "Illicit drug use and educational attainment," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(5), pages 489-511.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 223-255, March-Apr.
    5. 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.
    6. Cook, Philip J. & Moore, Michael J., 1993. "Drinking and schooling," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 411-429, December.
    7. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2003:93:11:1830-1836_3 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Ho, Daniel E. & Imai, Kosuke & King, Gary & Stuart, Elizabeth A., 2007. "Matching as Nonparametric Preprocessing for Reducing Model Dependence in Parametric Causal Inference," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 15(03), pages 199-236, June.
    10. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1999:89:10:1549-1554_7 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

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

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