Essays on the Economics of Health and Education
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I present empirical research considering the response of health and educational outcomes to alcohol consumption, drug abuse, and collegiate athletics. Chapter II considers the effect of legal access to alcohol on student achievement. The empirical approach identifies the effect through changes in students' performance after gaining legal access to alcohol, controlling flexibly for the expected evolution of grades as students make progress towards their degrees. The estimates indicate that students' grades fall below their expected levels upon being able to drink legally but by less than previously documented. Chapter III considers the relationship between collegiate-football success and non-athlete student performance. The findings indicate that the team's success significantly reduces male grades relative to female grades and only in fall quarters, which coincides with the football season. Survey data suggest that males are more likely than females to increase alcohol consumption, decrease studying, and increase partying in response to the success of the team. Yet, females also report that their behavior is affected by athletic success, suggesting that their performance is likely impaired but that this effect is masked by the practice of grade curving. Finally, chapter IV considers the effect of substance-abuse treatment on drug-overdose deaths. Though the provision of substance-abuse treatment may be an effective way to reduce drug abuse, whether it has a causal effect on drug-related mortality has not been documented. I analyze the effect of substance-abuse treatment on mortality by exploiting county-level variation in treatment facilities driven by facility openings and closings. The estimates indicate that a 10-percent increase in facilities lowers a county's drug-induced mortality rate by 2 percent. The results also suggest that spillovers of treatment reduce other causes of death related to drug abuse. As a whole, this body of research offers insight into the economic impact of behaviors involving drinking and other substance use. This dissertation includes previously published co-authored material.