The Joint Influence of Childhood Mental and Physical Health on Educational Attainment.

Anna Barker, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Poor physical health in childhood has enduring implications for adult labor market performance, yet less is known about how mental health affects long term outcomes. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-Children 1979, we estimate a series of non-recursive regressions and employ simulations to compute the relative and absolute effects of mental and physical health on cognitive and non-cognitive traits, high school attainment, and college attendance. Preliminary findings suggest physical and mental health jointly affect scholastic achievement, and effects of mental health are larger than those of physical health. In future analyses, we compare findings using other data sets, the National Child Development Study 1958 and the British Cohort Study 1970, to check the generalizability and robustness of our conclusions. Initial findings suggest ignoring early mental well-being may dramatically underestimate the effects of early conditions on scholastic achievement and are predictive of future labor market success.

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Presented in Session 208: Demographic Processes and Mental Health