Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department



Mroz, Thomas A.

Committee Member

Maloney , Michael T.

Committee Member

Sauer , Raymond D.


It is widely believed that activities such as drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, and using marijuana during the teenage years have a harmful effect on a youth's development, thus damaging his or her value in the labor market once the individual reaches adulthood. There have been several studies in the past that have looked into the consequences of partaking in such activities during both the adult and college years, but this paper will investigate how the use of alcohol, marijuana, and cigarettes at the age of 16 affects the average individual's future income and the amount of education completed by the time he or she becomes a young adult. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97), this paper will examine not only how having tried each of the aforementioned substances affects one's future outlook, but also the effect that various levels of drug or alcohol use at the age of 16 has on both the number of grades completed and the amount of money earned in the past year when the individual hits the ages of 23 and 25. Through regression analysis, the study finds that the net effect of using alcohol as a teenager on income as a young adult is generally positive for the sample. However, alcohol use as a teenager tended to have a negative effect on the amount of schooling finished. Both marijuana and cigarette use as a teen are met with a decrease in earnings and a reduction in the amount of education completed.

Included in

Economics Commons