Using Genetic Lotteries within Families to Examine the Causal Impact of Poor Health on Academic Achievement

51 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2009 Last revised: 23 Mar 2010

See all articles by Jason M. Fletcher

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health

Steven F. Lehrer

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 2009

Abstract

While there is a well-established, large positive correlation between mental and physical health and education outcomes, establishing a causal link remains a substantial challenge. Building on findings from the biomedical literature, we exploit specific differences in the genetic code between siblings within the same family to estimate the causal impact of several poor health conditions on academic outcomes. We present evidence of large impacts of poor mental health on academic achievement. Further, our estimates suggest that family fixed effects estimators by themselves cannot fully account for the endogeneity of poor health. Finally, our sensitivity analysis suggests that these differences in specific portions of the genetic code have good statistical properties and that our results are robust to reasonable violations of the exclusion restriction assumption.

Suggested Citation

Fletcher, Jason M. and Lehrer, Steven F., Using Genetic Lotteries within Families to Examine the Causal Impact of Poor Health on Academic Achievement (July 2009). NBER Working Paper No. w15148. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1434663

Jason M. Fletcher

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs ( email )

1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
United States

Yale University - School of Public Health ( email )

PO Box 208034
60 College Street
New Haven, CT 06520-8034
United States

Steven F. Lehrer (Contact Author)

Queen's University - School of Policy Studies ( email )

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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