The impact of poor health on academic performance: New evidence using genetic markers

J Health Econ. 2009 May;28(3):578-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2008.11.006. Epub 2008 Dec 25.


This paper examines the influence of health conditions on academic performance during adolescence. To account for the endogeneity of health outcomes and their interactions with risky behaviors we exploit natural variation within a set of genetic markers across individuals. We present evidence that specific genetic markers have good statistical properties to identify the impacts of ADHD, depression and obesity. These markers help reveal a new dynamism from poor health to lower academic achievement with substantial heterogeneity in their impacts across genders. Our investigation further exposes the considerable challenges in identifying health impacts due to the prevalence of comorbid health conditions, with clear implications for the health economics literature.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / genetics
  • Comorbidity
  • Educational Measurement*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / genetics
  • Mental Health
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Virginia


  • Genetic Markers