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The Youngest Get the Pill: ADHD Misdiagnosis and the Production of Education in Germany

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  • Wuppermann, Amelie
  • Schwandt, Hannes

Abstract

Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a leading diagnosed health condition among children in many developed countries but the causes underlying these high levels of ADHD remain highly controversial. Recent research for the U.S., Canada and some European countries shows that children who enter school relatively young have higher ADHD rates than their older peers, suggesting that ADHD may be misdiagnosed in the younger children due to their relative immaturity. Using rich administrative health insurance claims data from Germany we study the effects of relative school entry age on ADHD risk in Europe's largest country and relate the effects for Germany to the international evidence. We further analyze different mechanisms that may drive these effects, focusing on physician supply side and demand side factors stemming from the production of education. We find robust evidence for school-entry age related misdiagnosis of ADHD in Germany. Within Germany and internationally, a higher share of misdiagnoses are related to a higher overall ADHD level, suggesting that misdiagnoses may be a driving factor of high ADHD levels. Furthermore, the effects in Germany seem to be driven by teachers and parents in an attempt to facilitate and improve the production of education.

Suggested Citation

  • Wuppermann, Amelie & Schwandt, Hannes, 2016. "The Youngest Get the Pill: ADHD Misdiagnosis and the Production of Education in Germany," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145769, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc16:145769
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Currie, Janet & Stabile, Mark & Jones, Lauren, 2014. "Do stimulant medications improve educational and behavioral outcomes for children with ADHD?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 58-69.
    2. Anna Aizer, 2008. "Peer Effects and Human Capital Accumulation: the Externalities of ADD," NBER Working Papers 14354, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Hendrik Jürges & Kerstin Schneider, 2011. "Why Young Boys Stumble: Early Tracking, Age and Gender Bias in the German School System," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(4), pages 371-394, November.
    4. Schwandt, Hannes, 2017. "The Lasting Legacy of Seasonal Influenza: In-Utero Exposure and Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 10589, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Andrea M. Mühlenweg & Patrick A. Puhani, 2010. "The Evolution of the School-Entry Age Effect in a School Tracking System," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(2).
    6. Elder, Todd E., 2010. "The importance of relative standards in ADHD diagnoses: Evidence based on exact birth dates," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(5), pages 641-656, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chorniy, Anna & Kitashima, Leah, 2016. "Sex, drugs, and ADHD: The effects of ADHD pharmacological treatment on teens' risky behaviors," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 87-105.
    2. Chorniy, Anna, 2016. "Sex, Drugs, and ADHD: The Effects of ADHD Pharmacological Treatment on Teens' Risky Behaviors," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145766, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    3. Schwandt, Hannes, 2017. "The Lasting Legacy of Seasonal Influenza: In-utero Exposure and Labor Market Outcomes," COHERE Working Paper 2017:5, University of Southern Denmark, COHERE - Centre of Health Economics Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth

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