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Does Drinking Impair College Performance? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Approach

  • Mark L. Hoekstra
  • Scott Carrell
  • James West

This paper examines the effect of alcohol consumption on student achievement. To do so, we exploit the discontinuity in drinking at age 21 at a college in which the minimum legal drinking age is strictly enforced. We find that drinking causes significant reductions in academic performance, particularly for the highest-performing students. This suggests that the negative consequences of alcohol consumption extend beyond the narrow segment of the population at risk of more severe, low-frequency, outcomes.

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Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 356.

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Date of creation: Jun 2008
Date of revision: Jun 2008
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:356
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Web page: http://www.econ.pitt.edu/

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  1. Christopher Carpenter & Carlos Dobkin, 2007. "The Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Mortality: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the Minimum Drinking Age," NBER Working Papers 13374, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Thomas S. Dee, 2001. "The Effects of Minimum Legal Drinking Ages on Teen Childbearing," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 36(4), pages 823-838.
  3. Jeffrey A. Miron & Elina Tetelbaum, 2007. "Does the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Save Lives?," NBER Working Papers 13257, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Scott E. Carrell & James E. West, 2008. "Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors," NBER Working Papers 14081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Bisakha Sen, 2003. "Can Beer Taxes Affect Teen Pregnancy? Evidence Based on Teen Abortion Rates and Birth Rates," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(2), pages 328-343, October.
  7. Fertig, Angela R. & Watson, Tara, 2009. "Minimum drinking age laws and infant health outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 737-747, May.
  8. Dee, Thomas S., 1999. "State alcohol policies, teen drinking and traffic fatalities," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 289-315, May.
  9. Dave, Dhaval & Kaestner, Robert, 2002. "Alcohol taxes and labor market outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 357-371, May.
  10. Frank J. Chaloupka & Henry Wechsler, 1996. "Binge Drinking In College: The Impact Of Price, Availability, And Alcohol Control Policies," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(4), pages 112-124, October.
  11. Jeff DeSimone & Amy M. Wolaver, 2005. "Drinking and Academic Performance in High School," NBER Working Papers 11035, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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