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Marijuana Initiation and Labor Market Outcomes

Sat, August 11, 4:30 to 5:30pm, Pennsylvania Convention Center, Floor: Level 100, 106AB


Using various statistical models applied to data from the Add Health Survey, we estimate the associations between early initiation of marijuana use (i.e., middle school or high school), human capital formation, and earnings as a young adult. Results show that early initiation of marijuana use is negatively related to both human capital formation and earnings, but the estimated relationships for earnings are diminished considerably in augmented models that control for human capital and other socioeconomic characteristics. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that early marijuana use indirectly affects adult earnings through its negative effects on human capital formation. We also find weak evidence of a direct negative association between current marijuana use and earnings. Considered collectively, these findings suggest that very early initiation (i.e., age 14 or younger) of marijuana use may diminish educational attainment and labor market outcomes as a young adult, but the consequences are small or non-existent for later initiators and current marijuana users.