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

By Weili Ding, Steven Lehrer, J. Niles Rosenquist and Janet Audrain-McGovern


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, education, genetic predisposition, obesity, ADHD, depression, instrumental variables, risky health behaviors

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