Sex, Drugs, and Catholic Schools: Private Schooling and Non-Market Adolescent Behaviors

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Abstract

This study examines the effects of private schooling on adolescent non-market behaviors. We control for differences between private and public school students by making use of the rich set of covariates available with our NELS micro-dataset. We also employ an instrumental-variables strategy that exploits variation across metropolitan areas in the costs that parents face in transporting their children to private schools, which stem from differences in the quality of the local transportation infrastructure. We find evidence to suggest that religious private schooling reduces involvement in the most consequential risky behaviors such as teen sexual activity, arrests, and use of hard drugs (cocaine), but not drinking, smoking and marijuana use.

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