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Cannabis Use and Mental Health Problems


  • van Ours, J.C.

    (Tilburg University, Center For Economic Research)

  • Williams, J.


This paper investigates whether cannabis use leads to worse mental health. To do so, we account for common unobserved factors affecting mental health and cannabis consumption by modeling mental health jointly with the dynamics of cannabis use. Our main finding is that using cannabis increases the likelihood of mental health problems, with current use having a larger effect than past use. The estimates suggest a dose response relationship between the frequency of recent cannabis use and the probability of currently experiencing a mental health problem.

Suggested Citation

  • van Ours, J.C. & Williams, J., 2009. "Cannabis Use and Mental Health Problems," Discussion Paper 2009-60, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:tiu:tiucen:7ab192ba-b48a-4057-899a-419867066893

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mroz, Thomas A., 1999. "Discrete factor approximations in simultaneous equation models: Estimating the impact of a dummy endogenous variable on a continuous outcome," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 233-274, October.
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    4. Jeremy W. Bray, 2005. "Alcohol Use, Human Capital, and Wages," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 279-312, April.
    5. van Ours, Jan C. & Williams, Jenny, 2007. "Cannabis prices and dynamics of cannabis use," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 578-596, May.
    6. van Ours, Jan C. & Williams, Jenny, 2009. "Why parents worry: Initiation into cannabis use by youth and their educational attainment," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 132-142, January.
    7. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
    8. Jan C. van Ours, 2006. "Cannabis, cocaine and jobs," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(7), pages 897-917.
    9. Mireille Jacobson, 2004. "Baby Booms and Drug Busts: Trends in Youth Drug use in the United States, 1975–2000," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1481-1512.
    10. Cutler, David M, 1995. "The Incidence of Adverse Medical Outcomes under Prospective Payment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(1), pages 29-50, January.
    11. Zhou Yang & Donna B. Gilleskie & Edward C. Norton, 2009. "Health Insurance, Medical Care, and Health Outcomes: A Model of Elderly Health Dynamics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    12. Jan C. van Ours, 2007. "The Effects of Cannabis Use on Wages of Prime-age Males," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 69(5), pages 619-634, October.
    13. Gaure, Simen & Roed, Knut & Zhang, Tao, 2007. "Time and causality: A Monte Carlo assessment of the timing-of-events approach," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 141(2), pages 1159-1195, December.
    14. Stephen Pudney, 2010. "Drugs policy: what should we do about cannabis?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 25, pages 165-211, January.
    15. Jenny Williams & Christopher Skeels, 2006. "The Impact of Cannabis Use on Health," De Economist, Springer, vol. 154(4), pages 517-546, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. van Ours, J.C., 2011. "The Long and Winding Road to Cannabis Legalization," Discussion Paper 2011-126, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    2. van Ours, Jan C. & Williams, Jenny, 2012. "The effects of cannabis use on physical and mental health," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 564-577.
    3. repec:spr:empeco:v:53:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00181-016-1172-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. van Ours, Jan C. & Williams, Jenny & Fergusson, David & Horwood, L. John, 2013. "Cannabis use and suicidal ideation," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 524-537.
    5. Anderson, D. Mark & Rees, Daniel I. & Sabia, Joseph J., 2012. "High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide," IZA Discussion Papers 6280, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. D. Mark Anderson & Benjamin Hansen & Daniel I. Rees, 2015. "Medical Marijuana Laws and Teen Marijuana Use," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 495-528.
    7. Sabia, Joseph J. & Nguyen, Thanh Tam, 2016. "The Effect of Medical Marijuana Laws on Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 9831, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Silvia Balia & Rinaldo Brau, 2014. "A Country For Old Men? Long‐Term Home Care Utilization In Europe," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(10), pages 1185-1212, October.
    9. Anna Choi & Dhaval Dave & Joseph J. Sabia, 2016. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: Medical Marijuana Laws and Tobacco Use," NBER Working Papers 22554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item


    cannabis use; mental health; duration models; discrete factor models;

    JEL classification:

    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • I19 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Other


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