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The Effects of Graduation Requirements on Risky Health Behaviors of High School Students

Zhuang Hao () and Benjamin W. Cowan
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Zhuang Hao: School of Economics and Management, Beihang University, and School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University
Benjamin W. Cowan: School of Economic Sciences, Washington State University, and NBER

American Journal of Health Economics, 2019, vol. 5, issue 1, 97-125

Abstract: Previous studies have shown that years of formal schooling attained affects health behaviors, but little is known about how the stringency of academic programs affects such behaviors, especially among youth. Using national survey data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, we study the effects of mathematics and science high school graduation requirements (HSGR) on high school students’ risky health behaviors—specifically on drinking, smoking, and marijuana use. We find that an increase in mathematics and science HSGR has significant negative impacts on alcohol consumption among high school students, especially males and nonwhite students. The effects of math and science HSGR on smoking and marijuana use are also negative but generally less precisely estimated. Our results suggest that curriculum design may have potential as a policy tool to curb youth drinking.

Keywords: high school graduation requirements; health behaviors; youth (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I12 I29 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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