The Impact of Poor Health on Education: New Evidence Using Genetic Markers

Weili Ding, Queen's University
Steven F. Lehrer, Queen's University and National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
J. Niels Rosenquist, Harvard University
Janet Audrain-McGovern, University of Pennsylvania

This paper examines the influence of health conditions on academic performance during adolescence. To account for the endogeneity of health outcomes and their interactions with risky behaviors we exploit natural variation within a set of genetic markers across individuals. We present strong evidence that these genetic markers serve as valid instruments with good statistical properties for ADHD, depression and obesity. They help to reveal a new dynamism from poor health to lower academic achievement with substantial heterogeneity in their impacts across genders. Our investigation further exposes the considerable challenges in identifying health impacts due to the prevalence of comorbid health conditions and endogenous health behaviors. This distinction between health outcomes from health behaviors is not apparent in earlier empirical studies which estimate equations derived from models where either the parents or children make all the health and education input decisions by themselves.

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Presented in Session 79: Effects of Health on Development of Human Capital I