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Title: Puff, Puff, Pass? An Investigation of Adolescent Marijuana Use and Educational Attainment
Authors: Rosser, Calvin
Advisors: Grossman, Jean
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: This thesis uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to explore the relationship between marijuana use during adolescence and educational attainment by young adulthood. In the study, we measure educational attainment both in the number of years of schooling completed and highest degree attained. We examine the association of educational attainment with various dimensions of marijuana use, including the frequency of use during adolescence and the age of initiating use. We hypothesize that heavier users and earlier starters will have the lowest educational attainment, and that they will be the least likely to graduate from high school and earn a four-year college degree. In order to estimate how the quantity of marijuana use during adolescence and the age of first use are related to subsequent educational attainment, we first conduct a series of ordinary least squares (OLS) and logistic regressions. As hypothesized, the results suggest that regular users – individuals who use marijuana more than five times during adolescence – complete fewer years of schooling. They are also much less likely than non-regular users to graduate from high school and college. In addition, those who begin to use marijuana earliest complete less schooling than individuals who initiate later and those who never use at all. Next, we use an instrumental variables (IV) approach to account for the possibility that marijuana use is endogenous. Specifically, we re-estimate some of the relationships we examine in our OLS and logit models using an IV technique. Our results indicate that regular marijuana users experience a much greater reduction in years of schooling completed than our OLS models show. In addition, the IV analysis throws a different light on the effects of marijuana on high school and college completion. Unlike the logit estimates, the IV analysis suggests that the negative effect of being a regular marijuana user is greater on college graduation than it is on high school graduation. Overall, our results add to the growing body of literature suggesting that adolescent marijuana use reduces educational attainment. Given the increasingly liberal marijuana policies being adopted in many states and the ineffectiveness of current anti-marijuana initiatives, policymakers must consider new strategies that focus on reducing marijuana use among young people. In particular, they should devise a synergistic strategy that combines a mass media campaign and a school-based prevention program to reduce the prevalence of marijuana use among young adolescents. They should also conduct further research on the mechanisms through which marijuana use leads to reduced educational attainment in order to design the most effective initiatives.
Extent: 107 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2017

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