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The Effects of Graduation Requirements on Risky Health Behaviors of High School Students

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  • Zhuang Hao
  • Benjamin W. Cowan

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that years of formal schooling attained affects health behaviors, but little is known about how the stringency of academic programs affects such behaviors, especially among youth. Using national survey data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS), we study the effects of mathematics and science high-school graduation requirements (HSGR) on high school students’ risky health behaviors--specifically on drinking, smoking, and marijuana use. We find that an increase in mathematics and science HSGR has significant negative impacts on alcohol consumption among high-school students, especially males and non-white students. The effects of math and science HSGR on smoking and marijuana use are also negative but generally less precisely estimated. Our results suggest that curriculum design may have potential as a policy tool to curb youth drinking.

Suggested Citation

  • Zhuang Hao & Benjamin W. Cowan, 2017. "The Effects of Graduation Requirements on Risky Health Behaviors of High School Students," NBER Working Papers 23803, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23803
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    JEL classification:

    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I26 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Returns to Education

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