The Relationship Between High School Marijuana Use and Annual Earnings Among Young Adult Males

Published in: Contemporary Economic Policy, v. 24, no. 1, Jan. 2006, p. 52-63

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Jeanne S. Ringel, Phyllis L. Ellickson, Rebecca L. Collins

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This article uses a unique panel data set to examine the relationship between high school marijuana use and annual earnings at age 29. The authors estimate a series of OLS models that incrementally add potential confounding variables, including marijuana use at age 29. The analysis finds that part of the negative relationship reflects an indirect pathway whereby early marijuana use affects human capital accumulation, which in turn affects earnings. Moreover, the authors find evidence that the remaining association between early marijuana use and earnings, after controlling for differences in human capital, reflects the cumulative effect of marijuana use on cognitive ability and motivation.

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