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Risky Behavior among Youths

An Economic Analysis

Every day young people engage in risky behaviors that affect not only their immediate well-being but their long-term health and safety. These well-honed essays apply diverse economic analyses to a wide range of unsafe activities, including teen drinking and driving, smoking, drug use, unprotected sex, and criminal activity. Economic principles are further applied to mental health and performance issues such as teenage depression, suicide, nutritional disorders, and high school dropout rates. Together, the essays yield notable findings: price and regulatory incentives are critical determinants of high-risk behavior, suggesting that youths do apply some sort of cost/benefit calculation when making decisions; the macroeconomic environment in which those decisions are made matters greatly; and youths who pursue high-risk behaviors are significantly more likely to engage in similar behaviors as adults.

This important volume provides both a key data source for public policy makers and a clear affirmation of the usefulness of economic analysis to our understanding of risky behavior.

536 pages | 86 line drawings, 87 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2001

National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report

Economics and Business: Health Economics

Sociology: Demography and Human Ecology

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
Jonathan Gruber
1. Risky Behavior among Youths: Some Issues from Behavioral Economics
Ted O’Donoghue and Matthew Rabin
2. Youth Smoking in the United States: Evidence and Implications
Jonathan Gruber and Jonathan Zinman
3. Teens and Traffic Safety
Thomas S. Dee and William N. Evans
4. The Sexual Activity and Birth-Control Use of American Teenagers
Phillip B. Levine
5. Explaining the Rise in Youth Suicide
David M. Cutler, Edward L. Glaeser, and Karen E. Norberg
6. Marijuana and Youth
Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Michael Grossman, Frank J. Chaloupka, Patrick M. O’Malley, Lloyd D. Johnston, and Matthew C. Farrelly
7. The Determinants of Juvenile Crime
Steven D. Levitt and Lance Lochner
8. Environment and Persistence in Youthful Drinking Patterns
Philip J. Cook and Michael J. Moore
9. Dropout and Enrollment Trends in the Postwar Period: What Went Wrong in the 1970s?
David Card and Thomas Lemieux
10. Youths at Nutrition Risk: Malnourished or Misnourished?
Jay Bhattacharya and Janet Currie
Contributors
Author Index
Subject Index

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