The department of Economics

Document Type



This dissertation consists of three chapters on the economics of education and health economics. In chapter 2, I exploit exogenous variation in relative BMI by using a sample of students randomly assigned to classrooms to analyze the impact of the relative BMI of middle school students on their academic performance. I find that a higher BMI rank negatively affects the academic performance of female students, particularly in their Chinese and English scores. However, a higher BMI rank positively affects the academic performance of male students, especially in their Math and English scores.

In chapter 3, I estimate the short- and long-run impact of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) on college completion rates. I exploit variation in the timing of the implementation of MMLs across states with an event study approach. I find that in the short run, MMLs do not have a significant effect on college completion rates. However, a statistically significant negative effect on completion rates is observed for students enrolled in public less-than-four-year institutions. On the other hand, there is a positive long-run effect. Specifically, the positive effect is primarily driven by Hispanic and other students.

In chapter 4, I analyze the long-run effects of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) on the educational attainment and labor market outcomes among individuals who experienced childhood exposure to the laws, using data from the American Community Survey between 2000 and 2019. I find that medical marijuana laws cause significant and negative effects on individuals' educational and occupational achievement, including years of schooling, the propensity of obtaining a bachelor's or higher degree, college attendance, employment, and income. In addition, the results show that the effects are stronger for males and white. Moreover, I examine a number of potential mechanisms and find that MMLs could affect children's long-term outcomes through increasing drug and alcohol consumption among children and adults. My findings also provide evidence that cocaine and alcohol are complements of marijuana, especially for adults.



Committee Chair

Qiankun Zhou

Available for download on Wednesday, June 19, 2030