Marijuana use and high school dropout: the influence of unobservables
Article first published online: 20 NOV 2009
Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Volume 19, Issue 11, pages 1281–1299, November 2010
How to Cite
McCaffrey, D. F., Liccardo Pacula, R., Han, B. and Ellickson, P. (2010), Marijuana use and high school dropout: the influence of unobservables. Health Econ., 19: 1281–1299. doi: 10.1002/hec.1561
- Issue published online: 20 NOV 2009
- Article first published online: 20 NOV 2009
- Manuscript Accepted: 18 AUG 2009
- Manuscript Revised: 16 AUG 2009
- Manuscript Received: 29 MAY 2008
- high school completion;
- propensity scores
In this study, we reconsider the relationship between heavy and persistent marijuana use and high school dropout status. Using a unique prospective panel study of over 4500 7th grade students from South Dakota who are followed through high school, we developed propensity score weights to adjust for baseline differences found to exist before marijuana initiation occurs for most students (7th grade). We then used weighted logistic regression that incorporates these propensity score weights to examine the extent to which time-varying factors, including substance use, also influence the likelihood of dropping out of school. We found a positive association between marijuana use and dropping out (OR=5.6, RR=3.8), over half of which was explained by prior differences in observational characteristics and behaviors. The remaining association (OR=2.4, RR=1.7) became statistically insignificant when measures of cigarette smoking were included in the analysis. Because cigarette smoking is unlikely to seriously impair cognition, we interpret this result as evidence that the association between marijuana use and high school dropout is unlikely to be due to its adverse effects on cognition. We then explored which constructs drive this result, determining that they are time-varying parental and peer influences. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.