Does alcohol use during high school affect educational attainment?: Evidence from the National Education Longitudinal Study

Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research, Cambridge Health Alliance/Harvard Medical School, 120 Beacon Street, 4th Floor, Somerville, MA 02143, USA
Economics of Education Review (Impact Factor: 1.07). 10/2006; 25(5):482-497. DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2005.05.005
Source: RePEc


This paper uses data from the National Education Longitudinal Study to estimate the association between high school alcohol use and educational attainment measured around age 26. Initially, the effect of alcohol use on educational attainment is estimated using baseline probit models, which ignore the possibility that unmeasured determinants of alcohol use and educational attainment are correlated. A bivariate probit model is used next to estimate the equations jointly, with alcohol policies as identifying variables. Because these identifying variables are problematic, the bivariate probit model is then re-estimated without any identifying exclusions but with the correlation coefficient fixed at various levels. This part of the analysis allows one to gauge the sensitivity of the estimates to correlation between the unobservable determinants of both outcomes. The results suggest that alcohol use is associated with reductions in educational attainment, but there is little evidence that this association represents a causal relationship.

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    • "Alternative state-or county-level instrumental variables commonly used in the literature include state ethanol/alcohol consumption/sales (French et al., 2008; Mullahy and Sindelar, 1996; Sen, 2002; Terza, 2002), state cigarette tax (Bray, 2005; Mullahy and Sindelar, 1996; Sen, 2002; Terza, 2002), county/state police expenditure per capita, county arrest rate per crime (Averett et al., 2004; Rees et al., 2001; Sen, 2002), and percentage of the state's population living in dry areas (Chatterji, 2006a; Feng et al., 2001; Jones et al., 1999; Kenkel and Ribar, 1994). The assumption that the individual's environment affects his/her drinking behavior motivates the use of instruments such as the percentage of the state's population living in dry areas to examine the impact of drinking on schooling (Chatterji, 2006a) or labor market outcomes (Feng et al., 2001; Kenkel and Ribar, 1994). Based on the assumption that drinking and smoking are complements (Sen, 2002), the state cigarette tax is often used along with the state beer tax to examine the effects of alcohol use on employment or wages (Bray, 2005; Mullahy and Sindelar, 1996; Terza, 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: The primary statistical challenge that must be addressed when using cross-sectional data to estimate the consequences of consuming addictive substances is the likely endogeneity of substance use. While economists are in agreement on the need to consider potential endogeneity bias and the value of instrumental variables estimation, the selection of credible instruments is a topic of heated debate in the field. Rather than attempt to resolve this debate, our paper highlights the diversity of judgments about what constitutes appropriate instruments for substance use based on a comprehensive review of the economics literature since 1990. We then offer recommendations related to the selection of reliable instruments in future studies.
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    • "One concern raised in the literature centers on the fact that state-level instruments may be correlated with unobserved determinants of cross-state variation in the outcome variables (Chatterji, 2006; Dee & Evans, 2003; Rashad & Kaestner, 2004). State-specific cultural attributes or social attitudes that lead a state to set higher excise taxes on alcohol might also lead them to implement policies that promote healthy living. "
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    ABSTRACT: Empirical evidence suggests that individuals who consume relatively large amounts of alcohol are more likely to use expensive acute medical care and less likely to use preventive or ambulatory services than other individuals. The few studies that investigated the associations between heavy drinking and health promotion activities did not try to address omitted-variable biases that may confound the relationships. To fill this void in the literature, we examined the effects of heavy alcohol use on three health promotion activities (routine physical exam, flu shot, regular seatbelt use) using the US 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. Although specification tests indicated that omitted variable bias was not present in the majority of the single-equation probit models, we cautiously interpret our findings as evidence of strong associations rather than causal effects. Among both men and women, heavy alcohol use is negatively and significantly associated with each of our three outcomes. These findings suggest that heavy drinkers may be investing less in health promotion activities relative to abstainers and other drinkers. Policy options to address the associated externalities may be warranted.
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    • "These results appear for each specification of peer group structure. Quite likely this is due to identification issues from weak exclusion restrictions, similar to that reported in Chatterji (2006) and Grossman et al. (2004). Table 2 Individual-specific marginal effects (Drug use model). "
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    ABSTRACT: Four alternative structures of peer groups are compared in an empirical analysis of teenage dropouts and recent drug use. In general, individual-specific covariates remain robust regardless of group structure specification in dropout models, but lose significance in models of drug-use. Estimates of correlated school effects depend on the specification of group structure. Contextual group effects have no influence on the probability that an individual uses drugs, but demonstrate some statistical significance, albeit ambiguous and strongly dependent on the specification of group structure. Endogenous peer effects do not influence the probability of dropping-out of school, but exhibit positive complementarities with respect to recent drug-use. Modeling the probabilities of leaving school and recent drug-use within a jointly distributed empirical framework indicates that unobserved attributes bridging the two types of behavior demonstrate positive correlation.
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