Does High School Size Matter for Risky Behaviors and Mental Health of Low-Income Teenagers? Evidence from New York City

55 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2019

See all articles by Kai Hong

Kai Hong

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD); New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Syeda Sana Fatima

New York University (NYU) - New York University; New York University, Wagner

Sherry Glied

Dean; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Leanna Stiefel

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Amy Ellen Schwartz

Syracuse University - Center for Policy Research; New York University (NYU) - Institute for Education and Social Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: August 15, 2019

Abstract

We evaluate the impacts of small high schools on youth risky behaviors and mental health in New York City, using rich student-level administrative and survey datasets and Medicaid claim data. We use distance between student residence and school to instrument for endogenous school enrollment, using a two-sample-instrumental-variable approach that combines enrollment information from the educational administrative data with information on outcomes from the Medicaid claim data. We find that girls enrolled in old small schools (opened before 2003) are less likely to get pregnant before age 18 or to be diagnosed with substance use disorders between age 15-18. Boys in old small schools are less likely to be diagnosed with mental and substance use disorders. By contrast, we find that enrollment in more recently opened small schools increases the likelihood of violence, for both girls and boys, and the likelihood of mental disorder diagnoses for girls. Utilization of contraception treatment and access to school-based health facilities do not explain the findings. A close look at school characteristics suggests that the higher per student expenditures and lower student-teacher ratios in older small schools may contribute to the finding that they improve health outcomes. Conversely, lower teacher quality and higher probability of co-location with large schools in newly-opened small schools may explain their relatively poor performance. These results indicate that improving a package of both schooling organization and inputs is likely more effective than reducing school size alone in addressing youth risky behaviors.

Keywords: small high school, instrumental variable, youth pregnancy, youth violence, mental disorder, substance abuse

JEL Classification: H41, I12, I21, J13

Suggested Citation

Hong, Kai and Fatima, Syeda Sana and Glied, Sherry A. and Stiefel, Leanna and Schwartz, Amy Ellen, Does High School Size Matter for Risky Behaviors and Mental Health of Low-Income Teenagers? Evidence from New York City (August 15, 2019). NYU Wagner Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3437984 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3437984

Kai Hong (Contact Author)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD) ( email )

1600 Clifton Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30333
United States

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

Syeda Sana Fatima

New York University (NYU) - New York University ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

New York University, Wagner ( email )

New York, NY
United States

Sherry A. Glied

Dean ( email )

The Puck Building
295 Lafayette Street, Second Floor
New York, NY 10012
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Leanna Stiefel

New York University (NYU) - Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service ( email )

Public and Nonprofit Management and the Policy Pro
4 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10003
United States

Amy Ellen Schwartz

Syracuse University - Center for Policy Research ( email )

Syracuse, NY 13244
United States

New York University (NYU) - Institute for Education and Social Policy ( email )

United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
3
Abstract Views
395
PlumX Metrics