Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Economics

Major Professor

Gabriel Picone, Ph.D.

Keywords

Economics, Health, Depression, Grades, Human capital

Abstract

The following dissertation investigates the relationship between depressed mood and academic performance (measured in terms of grade point average) in U.S. middle and high schools. Utilizing data from AddHealth, the dissertation establishes Ordinary Least Squares, Two-Stage Least Squares (2SLS), and individual and sibling fixed effect regressions that attempt to control for confounding factors, including student motivation, personality characteristics, and parental inputs that are unobserved but may influence both mental health and achievement. Study findings indicate that students who report feeling depressed do not perform as well academically as non-depressed students. Additionally, the degree of GPA impact increases with the severity of reported depression. Students reporting either depressed feelings "most or all of the time" - or symptoms consistent with major depression suffer GPA reductions of 0.06 to 0.84 grade points. In addition, middle schoolers and certain minority groups are hardest hit by depression, and persistent depression has a negative impact on grades.

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