Genetic risks, adolescent health, and schooling attainment

Vikesh Amin, Jere R. Behrman, Jason M. Fletcher, Carlos A. Flores, Alfonso Flores-Lagunes, Hans Peter Kohler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We provide new evidence on the effect of adolescent health behaviors/outcomes (obesity, depression, smoking, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]) on schooling attainment using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. We take two different approaches to deal with omitted variable bias and reverse causality. Our first approach attends to the issue of reverse causality by estimating the effect of health polygenic scores (PGSs) on schooling. Second, we estimate the effect of adolescent health using sibling fixed-effects models that control for unmeasured genetic and family factors shared by siblings. We use the PGSs as additional controls in the sibling fixed-effects models to reduce concerns about residual confounding from sibling-specific genetic differences. We find consistent evidence across both approaches that being genetically predisposed to smoking and smoking regularly in adolescence reduces schooling attainment. Estimates for depression are more imprecise, but also suggest that a high genetic risk of depression and adolescent depression reduce schooling attainment. We find mixed evidence for ADHD. Our estimates suggest that having a high genetic risk for ADHD reduces grades of schooling, but we do not find any statistically significant negative effects of ADHD. Finally, we find no consistent evidence for a detrimental effect of obesity on schooling attainment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2905-2920
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Economics (United Kingdom)
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • adolescent health
  • education
  • polygenic scores
  • schooling attainment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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